More Kentuckians living in poverty

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

New census data released shows more Kentuckians are living in poverty, and fewer people have health insurance.

Some say the problem is worse in Eastern Kentucky, especially for adults.

It's not a new problem in Eastern Kentucky, but it's one that's not getting better.

Census data shows 17.4 percent of Kentuckians live in poverty and 17.5 percent do not have health insurance, but in the mountains the numbers are worse.

"We deal with these families everyday and we know that the actual percentage of people who are in poverty is much higher," said Rick Baker with LKLP Community Action Council.

He blames the lack of jobs in Eastern Kentucky.

"Because all those people have been laid off and they've exhausted their unemployment, and the jobs just aren't available in numbers to replace the jobs that were lost," said Baker.

And when there is no source of income, chances are families can not afford health insurance which places a burden on area doctors.

"We do the best we can for them. In many cases we will take care of them for free or we will work with a payment plan for them," said Dr. Mitchell Wicker at the Hazard Clinic.

But that is not going to fix the problem. Charles Baker with Kentucky Youth Advocates says the government needs to provide more assistance.

"We should be talking about how to get more people covered. It's not the fault of the people in the mountains that they don't have health insurance. They just can't afford it," said Charles Baker.

But in tough economic times, solutions to this problem are hard to find.

Charles Baker says some improvements have been made.

Kentucky has more children with health insurance after government investment in Medicaid and Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program, but he says more needs to be done to help adults.

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