We, the undersigned, as faith leaders of Working Together Mississippi, urge the Mississippi Legislature to pass the Mississippi Cares Plan.
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), would follow the example of the Good Samaritan, 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. Through the hospital-owned provider-sponsored health plan, Mississippi hospitals will make an additional investment in premiums needed to fund the program. The 10% State share required to match the 90% federal share would be funded through hospital investments and personal premiums from plan members. No state funds are required.
This plan would:
- 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 organization, Working Together Mississippi, urges the passage of the Mississippi Cares Plan.
Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Msgr. Elvin Sunds, Catholic Diocese of Jackson
Bishop Louis F. Kihneman, III of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church
Imam Ameen Abdur-Rashied, Masjid Muhammad, Jackson
Rabbi Debra Kassoff, Hebrew Union Congregation
The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi
The Rev. Carol Anthony
Bishop Ronnie C. Crudup, Sr., Fellowship of International Churches, Mid South Diocese
Rev. Phil Reed
Dr. Jerry Young, President of the National Baptist Convention USA, New Hope Baptist Church
Dr. Jesse Horton Sr., Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Jimmie Edwards, Rosemont MB Church, Jackson
Bishop Daniel Littleton, Church of God in Christ, Mississippi Southern First Ecclesiastical Jurisd.
Presiding Bishop Joseph R. Campbell, South Central Diocese Church of Christ Holiness USA
Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker, Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Rev. Horace McMillon, Open Door Mennonite Church, Jackson
Rev. Hugh Hollowell, Open Door Mennonite Church, Jackson
Dr. Robert W. Lowry, Fondren Presbyterian Church, Jackson
Rev. Dr. Hugh B. Jones, St. James Episcopal Church, Port Gibson
Rev. Gregory M Barras, Catholic Diocese of Biloxi
Rev. Gates Elliott, St Marks Episcopal Church, Jackson
Rev. Rims Barber, MS Human Services Coalition
Rev. Katie Bradshaw, Canon for Lifelong Formation and Mission, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, Jackson
Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kimmel, University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg
Additional signators are forthcoming.
(If you would like your name added to this list, please submit your name here)