Categories
Healthcare

Press Release: Nearly 300 Faith Leaders Support Healthcare Legislation

Mississippi Religious Leaders Announce Support for Legislation to Improve Our Healthcare System, and to Kick Off Civic Academy Campaign

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 WHAT:               Press Conference (in-person socially-distanced, and virtual)

LINK for VIRTUAL ATTENDANCE: http://bit.ly/3kw6Mwf

 WHEN:               Friday, March 5, 2021, 11:00 AM

 WHERE:            New Horizon Church International, 1770 Ellis Avenue, Jackson, MS

CONTACT:        Dorothy Triplett, 601-750-1855 (call or text), or Hugh Hollowell, 601-278-0609 (call or text)

We are all aware of the large numbers of uninsured Mississippians, the rural hospitals that have gone bankrupt and closed, leaving large areas without emergency rooms, and thousands of people without hospitals within a reasonable distance. The human cost of these conditions is immeasurable.  The economic cost is huge.

The issue of access to healthcare is not political, but it has been politicized to the point that our political leadership has refused to take advantage of Federal programs that would allow 300,000 additional Mississippians to receive coverage, and would help our hospitals reduce the cost of uncompensated care that currently runs $660 million per year. It just doesn’t make good sense to turn down 19,000 new jobs, and the opportunity to generate $1 billion a year in economic activity and produce $50-100 million in new tax revenue!

Working Together Mississippi is engaged in a multi-year effort to build a constituency for increasing access to healthcare by using Federal funds available through the Affordable Care Act.  Ninety percent of these funds will come from the Federal government, and the remaining 10% required match will be funded by a self-tax paid by hospitals in our state. No State money would be required.

Nearly 300 interfaith clergy leaders from all across the state (and the number is growing) have signed a letter expressing their support for this proposal.

Working Together Mississippi will conduct Civic Academies around Mississippi training a minimum of 500 lay leaders who will in turn educate other voters and their legislators on the issues at stake for our health, our communities and the future of our healthcare system.

Please join us at the press conference to learn more about this statewide effort!

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A PDF file of this press release is available for download here.

Categories
Healthcare

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.

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.