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Clergy letter urges healthcare reform

IRS opens the Jackson Taxpayer Assistance Center on March 11

A broad cross section of Mississippi faith leaders in cooperation with a coalition of religious and not-for-profit organizations is urging the state legislature to increase Medicaid benefits for postpartum mothers from 60 days to six months and expand affordable health care for 300,000 uninsured adult citizens.

Some 300 state clergypersons have signed on to a letter being circulated by Working Together Mississippi (WTM) appealing to legislators to address the healthcare needs of postpartum mothers, their infants and the wider population of mostly working Mississippians who do not earn enough to purchase insurance for themselves.

WTM is a coalition of more. than 270 congregations, parishes, synagogues, mosques and nonprofits that reflect the religious, racial. and geographic diversity of Mississippi.

“Within the scriptures of all faiths, there are myriad passages with a single message, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” the letter states. “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.”

The letter flags the large number of Mississippians without health insurance that is growing due to unemployment, closure of five rural hospitals and the financial risk facing many others and the disproportionate effect of the COVID pandemic on the working poor and minorities.

As starting point for legislators, the letter cites The Mississippi Cares Plan proposed by the Mississippi Hospital Association (MHA), which its signers believe lay out the basics of any plan that they adopt. It would provide Medicaid benefits to adults earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, who would receive the same benefits and pay the same co-pays as other Medicaid recipients. With certain exceptions, non-employed participants would have to enroll in job training or education programs. No state funding would be required. The Federal Government would pay 90 percent of the program, with the state ten percent share covered by a monthly premium of $20 per participant and contributions by Mississippi hospitals.

WTM is 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, the letter notes.


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