OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM

Mercy Health System
1000 Mineral Point Ave
Janesville, WI 53548

May 4, 2020

Dear Javon Bea and members of the Board of Directors of the Mercy Health System,

We are writing as a group of concerned citizens who are deeply disheartened by the decision to no longer accept the insurance provided by four Medicaid managed care organizations within our state. As you know, this move will effectively impact the ability to access healthcare for over 66,000 individuals throughout Winnebago County. We are sure that you must be aware that given the timing of such a devastating decision, that patients who will be impacted will not be able to find other providers within the 90-day window necessary to do so.

In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic in which individuals who have limited healthcare access, chronic medical conditions, are experiencing high-risk pregnancies and other challenges, you have decided to add one more, almost insurmountable obstacle to their ability to be able to seek care.

Many of the individuals covered by Medicaid MCOs in the state of Illinois are individuals who have chronic health conditions such as autoimmune disorders, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and more, making them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. It is quite clear from all of the evidence related to the pandemic that these preexisting and co-morbid conditions can lead to devastating outcomes. Outcomes such as untimely death and deteriorated health were possibly imminent prior to the pandemic and now this group of patients is at even higher risk.

These patients are also disproportionately made up of persons with disabilities, women, children, and individuals from the Black and Hispanic communities. This decision has effectively placed these patients in the position of having to seek other healthcare providers during a global pandemic. This is exacerbating the ongoing racial, economic, gender and ability-based discrimination already apparent in access to health care.

This letter is serving as a plea from concerned citizens, including current and former elected officials, individuals form the greater community, and patients as well as their providers. We are asking that you go back to the negotiating table and try to secure ongoing contracts with the four MCOs that you are seeking to no longer work with.

It is our hope that this issue may be resolved in a manner that allows for the 66,000 patients in Winnebago that will be impacted to continue to have access to their providers– providers who know their health history and who have been treating them for years.

These are among the most vulnerable individuals being served by healthcare systems in our state. Your actions place them at great risk of discontinued care and inability to access ongoing medications to treat their conditions. And most importantly, it will result in disparate outcomes for communities that are extremely vulnerable and members of protected classes.

Sincerely,
Eliminate Racism 815
Tasha Fields-Jackson, Concerned Citizen
Rhonda Greer, President of the NAACP
Vernita Hervey, 5th Ward Alderperson
Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr., Image Activist
Rev. Rd. Matthew Johnson, Unitarian Universalist Church
Linda McNeely, 13th Ward Alderperson
Elizabeth Lindquist, Roscoe Township Trustee
Jim Roberts, Greater Rockford Clergy Association
William Rose, 9th Ward Alderperson
Kate Schnell, Concerned Citizen
Kathy Tall, Concerned Citizen
Ann Thompson Kelley, 7th Ward Alderperson
Dave Vella, Candidate for Illinois House of Representatives, 68th District
Litesa E. Wallace, former State Representative IL-67
Rev. Peter Frank Williams, Rockford Ministers Fellowship
Women’s’ March Rockford