Floyd County has the 12th-highest rate of poverty in the state, with nearly 30 percent of the general population and 44 percent of children living below the poverty line. It has some of the highest rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death in the nation. Teen pregnancy rates are more than triple the national average. One-in-5 Floyd Countians do not have health insurance.
So, obviously, it only makes sense to cut public health spending in Floyd County, right?
Of course not, but that is exactly what the state has done. The Floyd County Health Department will lose 40 percent of its state funding when July 1 rolls around, with state support dropping from over half a million dollars to $339,000.
Fortunately, it does not appear that there will be any major ramifications from the cuts. Director Thursa Sloan says the department is on fairly solid financial footing, which means, unlike many other agencies across the state, Floyd County does not expect to see any layoffs, furloughs or reduction in business hours, although some employees might lose a few hours.
Still, how can there be any sense of fairness or equity in a decision to slash public health funding to an area where there is so great a need for preventative medicine, and the target population has so few resources to obtain it?
Keep in mind that this is not a matter of the state cutting funding across the state. This is simply a matter of taking money Floyd County normally would have received and giving to someone else.
If anything, the state should be pumping more money into Floyd County, in an effort to solve the very real, very widespread public health crisis that exists here, and which the health department is best equipped to tackle.
From WIC to vaccinations, from diabetes education to smoking cessation classes, from family planning to sliding-scale fees for uninsured patients, Floyd County Health Department seemingly has a service to combat each of our community’s many ills. How Frankfort can fail to recognize and reward that is beyond us.
— The Floyd County Times