Bad News Bill

June 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Healthcare, Issues, Recent Blog Posts

Under Governor Bill Lee’s leadership, Tennessee has become a national leader. Unfortunately, we’re leading in all the wrong categories. We’re now number one in the nation in rural hospital closures and yet another hospital is on the verge of shutting its doors while the ER there is already refusing to accept patients.

Chris Conte of NewsChannel5 in Nashville has more on the latest devastating healthcare news in our state:

“This community needs this hospital, desperately. If it closes, people are going to die and that’s just not right,” she added.

Jamestown Regional is the only hospital in Fentress County. It’s also one of the largest employers in the area, in which the median household income hovers around $20,000, far below the national poverty line.

County officials estimate nearly 150 doctors, nurses and other staff members are employed at Jamestown Regional, which is owned by Rennova Health. A number though that has likely declined after more than a dozen people were laid off on Friday.

While hospital officials have not explicitly said Jamestown Regional is closing, most healthcare experts say losing Medicare funding is essentially a “death sentence,” especially in rural community where most patients have either Medicare or Medicaid as part of their insurance coverage.

The hospital is still open, but in perhaps the first of what could be a deadly blow for Fentress County, the Emergency Room is no longer accepting patients who show up via ambulance. Meaning, county EMT’s are having to transport patients to the next closets hospital in Crossville, nearly 45 minutes away.

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“The rural hospital crisis in Tennessee represents an absolute moral failure on the part of Bill Lee and the General Assembly that so eagerly does his bidding,” said Andy Spears, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action. “While Lee puts on extra clean farm shirts on Fridays and pretends to care about working Tennesseans, the residents of the rural communities he purports to care about are literally dying. How many more emergency rooms must close before Lee realizes we have a crisis? How many actual farmers must suffer before the General Assembly takes action?

The sad reality is that legislators and Lee enjoy taxpayer-funded healthcare – the same benefit they consistently deny their fellow Tennesseans. Medicaid Expansion would provide access to coverage for as many as 300,000 Tennesseans. Medicaid Expansion would help keep rural hospitals open. We understand exactly what the problem is. There is a clear, sensible solution. That Bill Lee continues to ignore it is simply unacceptable. That the General Assembly is aiding and abetting this devastation of our rural communities is unconscionable.

Someone should remind Bill Lee of the parable of the Good Samaritan. So far, he’s been more than willing to simply walk by those suffering on his way to the next photo-op or farmer video shoot. Tennesseans may have seen Bill Lee at the White House this week, but we don’t see him doing the work that will make all our households strong.”

 

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Farmer Bill

 

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