Finney holds community forum at courthouse

Concerns about predatory credit card lenders, keeping the state’s hospitals solvent and extending medical coverage to the underinsured were some of the topics State Sen. Raymond Finney discussed with residents during a community meeting last week.

The gathering was held at the Blount County Courthouse on Friday, March 28. Finney answered questions and chatted with about 10 residents regarding their concerns for the district.

Finney said that while he was trying to write legislation to deal with credit card companies’ actions, he was advised that the state didn’t have the authority to do that. “I was trying to write legislation but our lawyers told me the federal governments regulates what happens,” he said. “We don’t have jurisdiction.”

Concerning health care, Finney said that often the wealthy and the very poor have medical coverage. “People in the middle often are squeezed and don’t have enough,” he said. “We aren’t looking out for our children the way we ought to.”

While Blount Memorial Hospital is healthy, the senator said he is concerned about the viability of hospitals in rural counties across the state. “If we start losing our county hospitals, it could have a domino effect. This could get out of control but most are holding on by reducing costs and reimbursements,” he said.

The senator said the last four years he has worked hard to listen to constituents to find out what they want. He also has had more than 1,000 surveys he sent out on the issues returned with comments. “I try to respond to every one. It’s very helpful when people tell me what they want. On some issues, people are divided. I can balance them out and come to some kind of conclusion,” he said. “I represent nearly 200,000 residents, and I take this responsibility seriously.”

Finney said that while not every vote has been perfect, he has worked hard to represent the will of the residents. “I think on balance I’ve represented the will of the people on nearly every issue,” he said.

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