Ohio bishops speak out for health care

The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses in Ohio have written a letter to the editor to all the newspapers in Ohio:

Dear Editor,

Every day more than 1.5 million Ohioans, nearly 14 percent of our population, wake up without health insurance coverage. As a result, many of them go without treatment until their condition becomes more severe and more costly to address. Often when they do seek treatment, it is in the most expensive way possible: through emergency rooms and hospitals. The cost of caring for the uninsured falls to everyone. Those with health coverage pay more in treatment costs, and we all pay more in taxes to support local and state public health programs. This budget cycle the Governor and legislature have an opportunity to control health care costs for the benefit of all Ohioans by expanding our Medicaid program, as provided for in the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). To do so is consistent with Gov. Kasich’s efforts over the last two years to transform Medicaid in Ohio — reducing costs and improving the program’s efficiency. As Christian leaders, we hear the call of Jesus to reach out to the poor and those on the margins of society. We believe that Medicaid Expansion will help stabilize health care to the poor and marginalized among us. We are leaders of a faith community that believes all are equal in the sight of God.

The Episcopal Church affirms the following principles as they pertain to health care:

• health care, including mental health care, should be available to all person in the United States;

• access to health care should be continuous;

• health care should be affordable for individuals, families, and businesses; • national and state health care policy should be affordable and sustainable for society;

• health care should enhance health and well-being by promoting access to high-quality care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered and equitable; and

• health care providers should not be expected to assume a disproportionate share of the cost of providing care.

In addition to the moral basis for expanding Medicaid, expansion makes financial sense. With expansion, Ohio’s potential savings by reducing uncompensated care is an estimated $1.1 billion to $2.3 billion from 2014 through 2019. In addition, recent studies indicate that $23.8 billion in additional federal funds will flow into Ohio’s economy through 2019. These dollars would strengthen Ohio’s economy, specifically supporting our hospital and health systems, and the hundreds of thousands of people they employ. We believe that the Medicaid Expansion provided for in the ACA is fiscally responsible and consistent with our values, our principles, and the historic commitment of The Episcopal Church. We therefore offer our support to Governor Kasich and our legislators in continuing the process of strengthening Medicaid by enacting Medicaid Expansion now.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.,

Bishop, Diocese of Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal

Bishop, Diocese of Southern Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. David C. Bowman

Assisting Bishop, Diocese of Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. William B. Persell

Assisting Bishop, Diocese of Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams, Jr.

Assisting Bishop, Diocese of Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price

Bishop Suffragan, Retired, Diocese Southern Ohio;

The Rt. Rev. Bavi Edna (Nedi) Rivera

Assisting Bishop, Diocese of Southern Ohio

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