A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: An open letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky Voices for Health


Kentuckians and people who are struggling all across the country are counting on you for leadership. In the face of a global health crisis that has infected nearly 55,000 Kentuckians – and killed more than 1,000 of our friends, family members, and neighbors – your constituents need real relief. This pandemic is nowhere near over and the last round of federal relief passed in May isn’t enough to keep Kentuckians healthy, housed, and fed right now, let alone as the year progresses.

The latest “skinny” bill that failed to pass the Senate is woefully inadequate. It provides no funding for Medicaid, no funding for state and local aid, and cuts unemployment support for struggling families during an increasingly deadly public health crisis and the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

We need you to push for Medicaid and public health funding, and for targeted aid to communities of color that have been hit hardest by both the public health and economic crises we are facing. Without a comprehensive and bipartisan relief package, millions of people will continue to battle rising COVID-19 infection rates and Black and brown people will continue dying at higher rates than their white neighbors. Without action, Kentuckians will continue struggling with unemployment, housing instability, food insecurity, mental health and addiction crises, and unsafe schools, making the road to recovery harder and longer.

There is a path forward: Congress should invest in Medicaid to help cover newly uninsured people and protect those already enrolled as state budgets tighten. At the same time, Congress must provide robust funding for state and local aid, increase food assistance through SNAP, match the unemployment subsidy rate provided in the CARES Act, and extend the eviction moratorium to bolster state and family economic security during the recession.

Big problems call for big solutions. The Senate Republican “skinny” package doesn’t come close to what Kentuckians need to get through this crisis healthy and whole.

On behalf of healthcare advocates and consumers across our commonwealth, we urge you to listen to the voices of Kentuckians who have been affected by this pandemic and act swiftly to negotiate a bipartisan agreement that will provide substantial aid to state and local governments and strengthen vital safety-net programs to see our commonwealth through this disaster and help us thrive on the other side.

Signed,

874K Disability Coalition
ACLU of Kentucky
Alliance for Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health of Kentucky Bridgehaven Mental Health Services
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro
Catholic Charities Owensboro
Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice
Coalition for the Homeless
Communicare
Community Farm Alliance
Fairview Community Health Center
Forward Kentucky
Freestore Foodbank
Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky
Jefferson County Teachers Association
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Kentucky Association for Psychology in the Schools (KAPS) Kentucky Association for School Social Work
Kentucky Center for Economic Policy
Kentucky Chapter of the Brain Injury Association of America Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Communities
Kentucky Council of Churches
Kentucky Equal Justice Center
Kentucky Mental Health Coalition
Kentucky Nonprofit Network
Kentucky Psychological Association
Kentucky Psychological Association
Kentucky Society for Clinical Social Work Kentucky State AFL-CIO
Kentucky Voices for Health
Louisville Center for Eating disorders Matthew 25 AIDS Services, Inc.
Mental Health America of Kentucky Metro United Way
Mission Behind Bars and Beyond (MB3) NAMI
NAMI Kentucky
NAMI Lexington
NKY Justice and Peace
Owensboro NAACP Branch 3107
Participation Station
People Advocating Recovery
Seven Counties Services
The Kentucky Council of Churches
The Women’s Network
Together Frankfort
Unemployed Action
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227 Wellspring, Inc.
John W. Heltzel, Anderson County
Fran Hoffman, Boone County
Janet Sogar, Boone County
Kimberlee L. Egan, Boone County
Patrick Egan, Boone County
Rosamond Finley, Boone County
David H. Snell, Boone County
Charlotta Bright Norby, Bourbon County
Christine Wolf Harper, Boyle County
Daniel Forrest Steinhauer, Boyle County
David Underwood-Sweet, Boyle County
Patrick Kennedy, Boyle County
Chet Sygiel, Breathitt County
Chris Barr, Breckenridge County
Eddy Kannapel, Breckenridge County
Thomas M. Yerkey M.A. LPA, Breckenridge County
Stephanie Barr, Breckenridge County
Sarah Burress, Bullitt County
Julian Steptoe, California County
Alan Batteiger, Calloway County
James M. Benson, Calloway County
Janice M. Morgan, Calloway County
Joseph Marshall Ward, Calloway County
Kala Chakradhar, Calloway County
Ken Wolf, Calloway County
Martha C. Cook, Calloway County
Randy Patterson, Calloway County
Sarah P. Kerrick, Calloway County
Debbie Batteiger, Calloway County
Caroline Brooke Christian, Campbell County
Emily Charlene McGrath, Campbell County
Frederick Warren, Campbell County
James Barton Harris, Campbell County
Judy Komorowski, Campbell County
Mary Joyce Moeller, Campbell County
Rachel Roberts, Campbell County
Robin Gee, Campbell County
Emily Daines, Campbell County
Siena Wahl Kennedy, Campbell County
Michael Bordieri, Christian County
Marilyn Lyons, Clackamas County
Charles Witt, Clark County
Margaret Moody, Clark County
Robyn Henrich, Clark County
Gayle DiCesare, Daviess County
Jacob Kiper, Daviess County
Jiten Shah, Daviess County
Magan A. Lott, Daviess County
Mary Danhauer, Daviess County
Sara Harley, Daviess County
Mandy Lewis, Fairfield County
Anne Kenan, Fayette County
Arneda Carmickle, Fayette County
Barbara F. Christensen, Fayette County
Caitlin Allen, Fayette County
Cherlynn Stevenson, Fayette County
Cristin Lesher, Fayette County
Deb Singleton, Fayette County
Donna Holton, Fayette County
Edward R Amend, Fayette County
Elizabeth Wakefield, Fayette County
Emily DeWitt, Fayette County
Erin Sandy Downs, Fayette County
Jennifer Murphy, Fayette County
Judith Gay Myers, Fayette County
Keith D. Elston, Fayette County
Kelley Lynne Patierno, Fayette County
Kelly Asher, Fayette County
Kelly Feibes, Fayette County
Kelsey Giurgevich, Fayette County
Kim Davis, Fayette County
Kimberly Hollingsworth, Fayette County
Laureen Vassil, Fayette County
M. Raynor Mullins DMD MPH, Fayette County
Mary Jan T. Johnson, Fayette County
Sarah Bowker, Fayette County
Steven Frederick Stone, Fayette County
Suzannah Williams, Fayette County
Whitney Reynolds, Fayette County
Diane Cahill, Fayette County
Rebecca Asher, Fayette County
Sampurna Srinivasan, Ph.D., Fayette County
Rebecca Whaley, Fleming County
Cara Stewart, Floyd County
Jean Rosenberg, Floyd County
Kim Bellamy, Floyd County
Susan Halbert Stewart, Floyd County
William Brandon Halcolm, Floyd County
Donna Aros, Franklin County
Jane F. Brake, Ph.D., Franklin County
K. Taulbee, Franklin County
Kathy Murphy, Franklin County
Larry P. Totten, Franklin County
Nate Orshan, Franklin County
Rebekah Berry, Franklin County
Steven Anthony Forbes, Sr., Franklin County
Tracy Pulley, Fulton County
Bonita L. Lykins, Graves County
Gregg Knight, Graves County
Judith Tuggle, Graves County
Cheryl Pennington, Greenup County
Sarah Henry, Hamilton County
A.J. Steele, Hardin County
Chastity Jacobs, Hardin County
Diane Large, Hardin County
Rollin Rhodes, Hardin County
Linda Tomlin, Harrison County
Bonnie and Sam Avery, Hart County
Herb Pritchett, Henderson County
Clark Rechtin, Henry County
Aaron Levinsky, Jefferson County
Abigail Sell, Jefferson County
Adria Johnson, Jefferson County
Aesha Uqdah, Jefferson County
Allison Keenan, Jefferson County
Amanda Mitchell, Jefferson County
Andrew Eskind, Jefferson County
Angela Cooper, Jefferson County
Angela Gott, Jefferson County
Ani Keshishian, Jefferson County
Anne Holland Tracy, Jefferson County
Anne Marie Grisanti, Jefferson County
Carol Hillard, Jefferson County
Carol M. Held, Ph.D., Jefferson County
Celine Mutuyemariya, Jefferson County
Charles Brestel, Jefferson County
Dallas Hurley, Jefferson County
Dante Murry, Jefferson County
David Dunn, Jefferson County
Douglas Jones, Jefferson County
Dr. Tammy Hatfield, Jefferson County
Elizabeth Frey, Jefferson County
Emily Beauregard, Jefferson County
Emily Ruth Cash, Jefferson County
Emma Johnson, Jefferson County
Eric Russ, Jefferson County
Eric Smith, Jefferson County
Garrett Adams, MD, Jefferson County
Gerald T. Chambers, Jefferson County
Gina Majestro, Jefferson County
Harriette M. Seiler, Jefferson County
Helene Finke, Jefferson County
Holly Gustafson, Jefferson County
J. Matthew Gilbert, PsyD, Jefferson County
Jackson Cooper, Jefferson County
Jayne D. Miller, Jefferson County
Jean Christensen, Jefferson County
Joan Prentice, Jefferson County
Joanne Graf, Jefferson County
Joni Jenkins, Jefferson County
Judith Lyons, Jefferson County
Karen P. Black, DNP, APRN, Jefferson County
Kathleen Blaisdell Curry, Jefferson County
Kelsey Voit, Jefferson County
Kevin Senn, Jefferson County
Lane B. Adams, Jefferson County
Lanie Hopping, Jefferson County
Larry Hovekamp, Jefferson County
Latrice Hayes, Jefferson County
Luis E. Sandoval, Jefferson County
M. Eli Pendleton, MD, Jefferson County
Mac Brown, Jefferson County
Mary Teresa Terlau, Jefferson County
Michael J. Read, Jefferson County
Muriel Handmaker, Jefferson County
Nancy Billington, Jefferson County
Patricia G. McGinty, Ph.D., Jefferson County
Patricia Terrell, Jefferson County
Penny Youngman, Jefferson County
Rev. Anita Roper, Jefferson County
Richard Lewine, Jefferson County
Robert Baker, Jefferson County
Rowena Aquino, Jefferson County
Sandra Otte, Jefferson County
Sheila A. Schuster, Ph.D., Jefferson County
Simon Robson, Jefferson County
Steve Helm, Jefferson County
Stewart Dean, Jefferson County
Stuart Billington, Jefferson County
Susan B. Stokes, Jefferson County
Susan M. Bentley, MD, Jefferson County
Suzanne Meeks, Jefferson County
Theresa Seitz, Jefferson County
Wade E. McCallum, Jefferson County
Benjamin William Birkbyb, Jefferson County
Bev Beckman, Jefferson County
Brenda Owens, Jefferson County
Carrie Christensen, Jefferson County
Cheri Levinson, Jefferson County
G. David Swim, Jefferson County
George B. Haarman, Jefferson County
Hardman Ann, Jefferson County
Jessica Rodenbaugh, Jefferson County
Joan Buchar, Jefferson County
Judith Axelrod, MD, Jefferson County
Judith DeMarco, Jefferson County
Judith Steilberg, Jefferson County
Judy Elaine Taylor, Jefferson County
Julia Lane Mitchell, MD, Jefferson County
Lindsay James, Jefferson County
Paula Schenk, Jefferson County
Rev. Mary Virginia Burks, Jefferson County
Stephanie Lee Hickey, Jefferson County
Susann Denise Thomas, Jefferson County
Warren E. VanHoose, Jefferson County
William Averitt Summay, Jefferson County
Ivonne Rovira, Jefferson County
Rhonda J. Roos, Jefferson County
Rachel Smith. Jessamine County
Betina Tacket, Johnson County
Alden Jones, Kenton County
Brenda Kelley, Kenton County
Christina Conover, Kenton County
Col Owens, Kenton County
David Allen Roode, Kenton County
Judy Thompson, Kenton County
Kaitlin Haggard, Kenton County
Michelle Johnson, Kenton County
Phyllis Browning Reed, Kenton County
Rene Thompson, Kenton County
Rod Huber, Kenton County
Ruth Bamberger, Kenton County
Sr. Cathy Bauer, OSB, Kenton County
Stan W. Heck, Kenton County
Susan Vogt, Kenton County
Tom Navin, Kenton County
Bonnie Hunt, Kenton County
Sabrina Ane Carr, King County
Harold Watley, Knott County
Shirley Watley, Knott County
Charles Baker, Laurel County
Shawn Cowden, Laurel County
Cynthia L. Hanson, Laurel County
Sandra Gill, Laurel County
Joy Frye, Lee County
Beverly Breeze, Lewis County
Elizabeth Carter, Lincoln County
Esther Bailey, Lincoln County
Mary Margaret McNemar, Lincoln County
Amanda Wyrick, Madison County
Deana Caldwell, Psy.S., NCSP, Madison County
Melissa Lane, Madison County
Mercedes Helton, Madison County
Nancy Crewe, Madison County
Rev. Kent H. Gilbert, Madison County
Tanya Stewart, Madison County
Carol Goodin, Marshall County
Robin R. Osborne, Mason County
Thomas P. Vetter, Mason County
Bonnie Marie Koblitz, McCracken County
Carrie Singler, McCracken County
David Polk, McCracken County
Jenna Gruzella, McCracken County
Sandra Cargill, McCracken County
Carolyn Kay Conover, Mercer Coounty
Teresa Bell, Mercer County
Rebecca Ann Vance, Metcalfe County
Amber Adams, Montgomery County
Brenda Benson, Murray
Erica Mitchell, Nelson County
Kelly Holcomb, Nelson County
Gerald Oprisko, Nueces
Katherine Hughes, Ohio County
Anne Howard, Oldham County
Brenda Huntsman, Oldham County
Diane Zero, Oldham County
Gabby Davis, Oldham County
Octa W. Kellond, Oldham County
Vicki B. Watts, Oldham County
Mary Conway, Oldham County
Sarah Tanselle, Oldham County
Lauren Keith, Owen County
Barbara Calhoun, Perry County
Diedra Hayden, Pike County
Trivina Blackburn, Pike County
Willis J. Keenan, Pike County
Rebecca Keene, Pike County
Cynthia I. Minde, Pinal
Nona Camuel, Rowan County
Rebecca Davison, Rowan County
Alisha Bolin, Russell County
Andrea Halbert, Scott County
Brian Wilkerson, Scott County
Christina Libby, Scott County
Jennifer L. Giles, Scott County
Jonel D. Priddy, Scott County
Brenda Arellano, Shelby County
Diane Banic, PhD, Shelby County
Gregory Allen Sparks, Shelby County
Sylvia S. Coffey, Shelby County
Margaret Holt Chapman, Union County
Adrian Manzano Sr., Ventura
Dr. Charles Webb, Warren County
Jamie Loveland, Warren County
Lisa Cummings, Warren County
Lucy Juett, Warren County
Pamela Napier, Warren County
Patricia Guthrie, Warren County
Sally Kuhlenschmidt, Warren County
Susan Eagle, Warren County
Teresa Ward, Warren County
Dorell Sayre, Washington County
Susan Starling, Wayne County
Carol Ball, Whitley County
Stefanie Ebbens Kingsley, Whitley County
Norb Ryan, Woodford County
Ashley Homrich
Barbara Woeste, O.S.B.
Betty Anderson
Candy J. Holliday
Carolyne Sue Bonds
Cheryl Daniels
Christina Bacon
Dana Feldpausch
Dorothy Schuette
Faith L. Kemper
Fran White
Gene Holthouser
Holly Brown
Jacki Masar
Jerry Buford Nail
John David Miller
Jon Urey
Kimberly Poole
Kristina Edington
Larry Lewis
Larry Peariso
Lisa Michele Bridges
Marc Steven Rosen
Michele Johnston
Patricia J. Kannapel
Phyllis Gabbard
Richard Steele
Rita Geoppinger
Rollin H. Tarter
Ryan R. Riddle
Sheila Penney
Sister Janet Bucher CDP
Stanley Nassano
Susan Bornstein, MD, MPH
T. D. Garrison
Tammy Nofsinger
Nancy Goldstone Singer
Brenda Hare McGown


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