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Clergy Supports Access To Healthcare

Letter of Support for Increasing Access to Affordable Health Care in Mississippi

We, the undersigned faith leaders, join with Working Together Mississippi (WTM) in urging the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation to increase Medicaid benefits for postpartum mothers from 60 days to six months. This would be a significant health benefit to postpartum mothers as well as to their infants.

As faith leaders, we also urge the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation that would expand access to affordable health care for 300,000 uninsured adult Mississippians. Most of these adults are working but do not have insurance through their employer and do not earn enough to purchase insurance for themselves.

Within the scriptures of all faiths, there are myriad passages with a single message, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How better to show love for our neighbors than to show concern for their health and well-being? As more and more of us are confronted with the realities of the impact of this COVID-19 pandemic, there are serious concerns regarding the state of healthcare in Mississippi.

● More than 300,000 adults in Mississippi are without health insurance, most of whom work but do not have insurance through their employer.
● State unemployment has significantly increased as a result of the pandemic; thus, resulting in an increase in the number of uninsured persons;
● Prior to the pandemic, five rural hospitals closed; half of those remaining are at high financial risk. The pandemic increased this risk.
● The effect of the pandemic on the working poor and minorities has proven to be vastly disproportionate, in part because of the lack of sufficient access to healthcare.
● In its efforts to control and contain the effects of this health crisis, Mississippi has again been offered the opportunity to answer the question of how to deliver a system of adequate and equitable healthcare to all its citizens.

The Mississippi Cares Plan proposed by the Mississippi Hospital Association (MHA) is one possible remedy.

It would provide Medicaid benefits to adults earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. They would receive the same benefits and pay the same co-pays as other Medicaid recipients. With certain exceptions, non-employed participants must enroll in job training or education programs. It would be funded 90% by the Federal Government. The matching 10% would be provided by a monthly premium of $20 per participant and contributions by Mississippi hospitals. No state funds are involved.

WTM is also working with the State Insurance Commissioner and his staff as they work with managed care providers in the state, the MHA and Federal officials to seek increased ways to secure health care access and financial stability for our health care system.

No doubt, other solutions will be proposed and merit consideration. WTM and the undersigned pledge to work with legislative leaders, the Commissioner and others to find a solution for access to affordable health care and the economic crisis facing the hospitals of our state. We believe that whatever solution is adopted should meet the following criteria.

● Make affordable healthcare available when and where needed to adults earning up to 138% of the National Poverty Level;
● Help sustain hospitals, especially in rural areas where there is extraordinary need;
● Significantly reduce uncompensated care of hospital, a situation which currently threatens the survival of our rural hospitals;
● Give the State the much-needed time, while working with community partners such as the MHA and others, to develop a way to sustain this level of healthcare for up to 300,000 currently uninsured residents.

Therefore, we join with Working Together Mississippi in urging the passage of legislation that expands access to affordable healthcare for all Mississippians. We also urge passage of legislation that increases Medicaid benefits to postpartum mothers to six months.

Signed,

Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Bishop Louis F. Kihneman of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi
Bishop James Edward Swanson, Mississippi Area of the United Methodist Church
Bishop Brian Seage of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi
Dr. Jerry Young, President of the National Baptist Convention USA, New Hope Baptist Church
Bishop Daniel Littleton, Church of God in Christ, Mississippi Southern First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction
Presiding Bishop Joseph R. Campbell, South Central Diocese COCHUSA
Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker, Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr. New Horizon Church International
Rev. Rob Lowry, Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson
Imam Ameen Abdur-Rashied, Masjid Muhammad in Jackson
Rev. Jeffery Landis, Gulf States Mennonite Conference
Rev. Horace McMillon, Open Door Mennonite Church in Jackson

If you are clergy in MS and wish to have your name added to this list as a co-signer, please fill out the form at this link.

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