Tennessee’s ongoing budget problem (the state levies virtually no income tax) has resulted in a plan to cut over 200,000 state residents from the Medicaid rolls.

These cuts are posed to hit some rural areas of Tennessee particularly hard.

In rural Fentress County nearly half of the county’s 17,000 people are on TennCare. This marks the highest percentage for any county in the state. Close to 3,000 people in the county could be dropped from TennCare’s rolls by the end of the summer.

Certainly other residents share the untenable position of Terry Sheilds

Terry Shields [is] a 36-year-old long-haul trucker who can no longer drive professionally because of a debilitating combination of chronic pain and shortness of breath, high blood pressure, allergies and diabetes.

Shields stares at the collection of pills and inhalers spread across the table in his home and worries about the future.

“There is no way I can pay for my medicines. No way,” he said. “If the cuts go through like they are being proposed, it’s pretty much like the governor is saying, ‘Which disease do you want to die from?’” said Shields, who faces drug bills far exceeding the $1,600 he receives in Social Security each month to support himself, his wife and two children.

TennCare is administered by the state and funded with both federal and state funds.

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