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Healthcare

Clergy Supports Access To Healthcare

Letter of Support for Increasing Access to Affordable Health Care in Mississippi and Creating Healthier Communities Statewide

We, the undersigned faith leaders and institutional leaders, join with Working Together Mississippi in urging the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation increasing the access to affordable health care for 300,000 uninsured Mississippians.

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 Novel COVID-19 Pandemic, there are some clear concerns and conclusions:

● More than 300,000 adults in Mississippi are without health insurance;
● It is projected that state unemployment will increase to as much as 17% as a result of the pandemic; thus, resulting in an increase in the number of uninsured.
● Prior to the pandemic, five rural hospitals had closed; half of those remaining are at high financial risk. The pandemic has 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 coronavirus 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 legislative remedy to our current problem. It would, following the example of the Good Samaritan in the Christian Scriptures, aid Mississippi’s working poor and require no state funding.

It simply involves providing them the services offered by the Medicaid program. Adults who earn up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level would qualify. They would receive the same benefits and pay the same co-pays as other Medicaid recipients. The MHA proposes that, with certain exceptions, non-employed participants must enroll in a job training program, education, or volunteer program.

The MHA proposal includes the fact that this extension of healthcare to the working poor of Mississippi would be funded 90% by the Federal Government and the Hospital Plan could cover the other 10% with no state funds required.

There are other options that could be developed such as using the State Risk Pool to draw down the cost to the state of using the Medicaid Expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act. WTM and the undersigned are pledged to working with Legislative leaders to find a solution to the access to health care and the economic crisis facing the hospitals of our state.

An Affordable Access plan should do the following:
● Make healthcare accessible when and where needed;
● Help sustain hospitals, especially in rural areas where there is extraordinary need;
● Reduce uncompensated care by 40-50%, a situation which currently threatens the survival of our hospitals;
● Give the State the much-needed time, while working with community partners such as the MHA, to design/develop a way to sustain this level of healthcare for up to 300,000 currently uninsured residents.

Our organizations, along with Working Together Mississippi, urges the passage of legislation that expands access to affordable healthcare for all Missississippians.

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.

Categories
MS State Flag

Statement from Religious Leaders on the State Flag of Mississippi

Recent events in our country have made it abundantly clear that our “one nation under God, indivisible” is deeply wounded.  We have been made unequivocally aware of significant divisions among us.  As we search for ways to heal our nation, we are more aware than ever before of the need to make sure that signs and symbols designed to represent us do in fact represent all of us.

Today we come as leaders of faith communities representing thousands of Mississippians. We are asking Governor Reeves, Lt. Governor Hosemann, Speaker Gunn, and the legislature to remove and replace a symbol that has been a major source of disagreement and discontent in our state: The flag of the State of Mississippi.  The Confederate Battle Flag has long been a source of philosophical, political, cultural, and racial controversy. It is time for a new flag that truly represents all of us and the values of our beautiful state.

There has never been a more fitting and necessary time to make this change.  We ask that our state leaders and the legislature proceed immediately to do so.  To delay doing this will only further exacerbate the deep racial divisions that have existed for 401 years.

As people of faith, we believe that repentance is a necessary part of our personal and corporate faith journey. Enslaved African’s were brought to this continent 401 years ago. A theology of white supremacy was constructed to justify this brutal kidnapping and enslavement. The most destructive war in our nation’s history was fought to protect the economic system that slavery produced. It was fought under the battle flag that is contained in our State Flag. Many religious leaders of the Confederate States defended slavery with a theology of white supremacy. We stand today as a diverse group of religious leaders saying that as a state we need to repent and make amends for these corporate sins.

The brutal public death of George Floyd by a police officer shocked the country. George Floyd’s death occurred on Memorial Day, a day that began in Columbus Mississippi with the decoration of graves of Confederate Soldiers with the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. We as Mississippi religious leaders know that much work is to be done to assure equal treatment under the law. We also know that police and law enforcement reform will only work if it is rooted in corporate racial reconciliation.

The immediate removal of the Battle Flag from the Mississippi state flag will be an important public symbol of our willingness as a state to seek repentance and racial reconciliation. We call on our elected leaders to act now.

To have your name added as a signatory, please click this link and put your information in the form provided.

Categories
Healthcare

Healthcare reform for Mississippi

Last week, leaders from more than 100 institutions statewide came together on a virtual assembly put on by Working Together Mississippi to launch the new We Care Mississippi campaign in support of healthcare reform for Mississippi.

In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, as it rolls across Mississippi and puts essential workers – some of whom have no access to healthcare at all – at heightened risk of illness, this conversation is more important than ever.

We are supporting the passage and implementation of the Mississippi Cares plan, as proposed by the Mississippi Hospital Association. This would bring healthcare to more than 300,000 currently uninsured Mississippians who are currently uninsured, at no cost to the state or taxpayers.

In the near future, we will have a lot of announcements about this. But for right now, here are two tangible ways you can be involved:

  • Ask your State legislators to pass legislation to approve the Mississippi Cares Plan by calling them and writing emails to them.

You can find your state legislator’s name and contact information by going to this link and entering your address. Sample language for your letters, emails, and calls can be found here.  Of course, you would put this in your own words.

  • We need assistance with our media and promotions team, to help us get the word out.If you want to learn more about how you can help us do that, just reach out to us with your contact information and we will get back to you.