MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on Gov. Bill Lee’s tenure so far.
When Tennessee Governor Bill Lee was running for the office last year, he promised to put more emphasis on rural counties and their specific needs. But after some eight months into his tenure, there has been little evidence that the Governor is following through. He is now attempting to change that perception.
Last week, Lee took his entire cabinet to Perry County, about an hour and half drive from Nashville, in an effort to address rural concerns. But what Lee and his administrators heard did not mesh all that well with the Governor’s conservative agenda. Because much of the discussion by officials from several rural counties was on healthcare and the worrisome trend of rural hospitals closing their doors.
Lee, however, has made it clear he does not favor expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Instead he is pushing for some sort of federal block grant funding to address healthcare needs, particularly in rural counties. The truth is, Lee’s thinking on healthcare is more of a longer-term approach; something he calls a 20-year solution.
If nothing else, the Governor’s meeting last week brought one thing into focus; that poverty and healthcare issues are not just inner-city problems. They are also huge problems for rural Tennesseans. These are people who voted in droves for Lee. But on healthcare at least, Lee and rural counties are not on the same page. And that’s my point of view.