January 28, 2013

Sisters of Charity Health System CEO speaks at Medicaid Expansion Assembly

Sisters of Charity Health System President and CEO Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, joined other leaders from the Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition on January 24 for a Medicaid Expansion Assembly organized by Greater Cleveland Congregations.  The Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition is a group of allies working together to encourage the state of Ohio to act upon the provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by expanding Medicaid to persons living below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Along with executives from other area health systems, Sister Judith Ann took the podium and addressed the crowd of more than 1000 at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, calling for Medicaid expansion now.

Sr. Judith Ann shared that the Sisters of Charity Health System has long believed that health care is a fundamental right for all people, and that families and communities are stronger when everyone has access to quality, affordable health care.

Across the nation, studies have shown that Medicaid coverage demonstrably improves health care outcomes and financial security for beneficiaries compared to being uninsured.

“We know that Medicaid coverage saves lives,” said Sister Judith Ann. “From a point-of-view of those who deliver care, hospitals are major anchors in the communities, but live with real fiscal challenges.  Federal and state governments must support adequate and sustainable financing to ensure the ability of health care providers -- including hospitals -- to maintain quality and compassionate care.”

The Sisters of Charity Health System supported passage of the Affordable Care Act because it offers nearly 32 million Americans the dignity of health coverage. To pay for it, hospitals and other providers are already experiencing reimbursement reductions and will continue to pay for the ACA. 

“We believed the ACA would lead to coverage expansion. But now, if a state like Ohio chooses not to expand its Medicaid program, the ability of the ACA to expand coverage, particularly to vulnerable populations currently living without health coverage, is lost,” said Sister Judith Ann.

The majority of uninsured adults have no regular source of health care, forcing them to delay or forego needed care when they are sick. This dramatically limits uninsured adults’ access to preventive services, reducing productivity and threatening their health.

“Medicaid expansion, along with the other reforms, achieves the promise of coverage and high-quality integrated care,” Sister Judith Ann said. “Today and every day, we as people of faith are called to serve vulnerable persons and to advocate for all those in need.  Many times the choices we make are difficult. Today, however, our call is clear. As many leaders representing many different people have shown: expanding Medicaid is good for both uninsured Ohioans and all people of Ohio.”

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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