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Leadership Team letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan

Note: The following is a letter written by the Leadership Team to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), regarding the proposed federal budget

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, we have grave concerns regarding the federal budget and its impact for the most vulnerable of our country’s citizens, especially women, children and senior citizens on fixed incomes.

Though there are a variety of issues that are negatively impacted by the proposed federal budget, the issue of health care seems most critical. Our own experience in providing health care for the needy among us has brought home the urgency of taking action. Those struggling in our Wabash Valley and throughout this country to meet their most basic human needs should not have to choose between needed medical appointments, taking their medication or putting food on the table.

In 1997, we helped establish what is now known as Wabash Valley Health Center. The center provides comprehensive primary care services to improve the health status of the medically underserved and medically indigent residents of Vigo and surrounding counties in Indiana without regard for the patient’s ability to pay. Currently, the facility reports slightly more than 1,000 patient visits a month. Forty percent of the budget is federally funded. A decrease in federal funding would significantly impact their ability to serve those most in need.

Providence Health Care, a current sponsored institution of the Sisters of Providence, is a skilled nursing and assisted living facility on our Motherhouse grounds. Originally serving just the Sisters of Providence, as of October 2012, Providence Health Care opened to patients from the general public.

A balance of Medicaid, Medicare and private pay clients allows us to provide quality care to many persons in our depressed economic and food insecure area who otherwise could not afford our services. To serve those less privileged in our society is an essential aspect of our mission.

Furthermore, we are seeking to expand our services by establishing special programming for those with cognitive challenges and various forms of dementia. We are in the process of certifying members of our staff as Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainers. This training provides a significant upgrade in quality of life experience for patients who have dementia.

Currently, Providence Health Care is financially sustainable; however, decreases in Medicare and Medicaid funding would pose a significant threat to our very existence as a health care facility and our ability to serve those with health-care needs.

Our Catholic faith holds that every person is to be treated with human dignity. The Gospel and our Catholic Social Teaching call us to make evident that those who are most vulnerable are our priority. That is why we urge you as a person of conscience and as a public servant to serve the common good by working in a bipartisan manner to establish healthcare policies that benefit all.

As members of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, we urge you to pass a moral budget that protects Medicaid from cuts over the next 10 years and does not shift funding to the states in block grants.

Like NETWORK, we believe that the federal budget is a moral document that reflects the priorities of our nation. This budget must prioritize human needs programs, ensure funding to care for vulnerable members of our society, restore economic opportunity, and invest in community.

We appreciate your service to the common good and pray for wisdom and guidance for you as you make these important budgetary decisions.

Sincerely in Providence,

Dawn Tomaszewski, SP,

Lisa Stallings, SP,

Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP,

Mary Beth Klingel, SP, and

Jenny Howard, SP,

Leadership Team of the Sisters of Providence

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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