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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Education, health care top concerns at town hall meeting

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sen. Lowe Finney updates a group at the McIver's Grant Public Library Tuesday afternoon on the latest legislative session.
State Sen. Lowe Finney was back in town on Tuesday to host a town hall meeting at the McIver's Grant Public Library to bring attendees up to speed on the latest legislation from Nashville.

Finney spoke about the Tennessee Promise Act, which uses Tennessee Lottery reserve money to fund two years of college or technical school for high school graduates.

He then turned his attention to health care.

"For the second year in a row, we have failed to pass legislation to take our portion of the Federal Medicaid money," said Finney. "The Medicaid program that other states are expanding to include working people in healthcare plans."

Finney says that if the state does not take its Medicaid money back from Washington, then it goes to other states for their use. When the Affordable Health Care Act was passed, other states were able to insure those who work but are below poverty level because they expanded their Medicaid programs but Tennessee did not.

"All of you have paid into the Federal Medicaid Program," Finney said. "But as of today, your money is not coming back here, it's going to pay for these other states, where their programs are successful.

"The governor says he's working on a plan, I know he's talked to the federal government," Finney continued. "He's trying to work something out and I hope that the governor will pass a law to address this issue to take what's already ours so that we can cover these folks to make sure they have basic healthcare coverage."

Following the meeting, Youlanda Jones-Wilcox, vice president of institutional advancement for Dyersburg State, told Finney the college had lost about $140,000 in funding from hospitals for their nursing program.

"There are no new tax dollars from the state," added Dr. Karen Bowyer, DSCC president. "That's money that we counted on for the nursing program."

Finney said that is a prime example of the ripple effect of healthcare reform. Hospitals are beginning to cut funding, leaving some to make cuts in staff and healthcare services and others to close.

Finney opened the floor for any questions or comments. Director

of Dyersburg City Schools Neel Durbin told him he appreciated everything he had done for the education system.

Durbin stated the schools had not received TCAP quick scores, which count for 25 percent of the students' grades. Finney told him that he would make it a priority to check on the TCAP situation immediately.

Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill asked Finney what his plans are after the election, as he is not running again. Finney stated he planned on raising his 3-year-old son with his wife at their home in Jackson.

Finney ended the town hall meeting with an invitation for area residents to contact him with their needs and their opinions, stating that he is still representing the people until election day.

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