Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Rutherford County's high TennCare enrollment is due to large Hispanic population, says Health Department official

"Rutherford County, which ranked fifth in per capita TennCare enrollment growth, has a relatively large Hispanic population that could help explain a high TennCare growth rate in a county with a healthy economy, said Ellen Gray, director of the county's Health Department."

"'Not all of them can get on TennCare,' Gray said, 'but much of that population are young and of child-bearing age and their children that are born here many times can and do get on TennCare. We want them to so they can have good insurance and coverage.'"

"Census figures show that Rutherford County ranks 11th in the size of its Hispanic population. The pregnancy rate in the county ranked in the top 20% in 2002, state data show."

"Hispanic workers tend to be clustered in construction and service sector jobs that are less likely to offer health insurance benefits, Gray added."

"Other factors that can influence county TennCare rates include the relative number of children, disabled people and nursing home residents, Elam said. Those groups are still able to get on TennCare in many cases, despite changes in recent years that have made it harder for able-bodied adults to get coverage."

The Tennessean

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