Downtown Kokomo on a Friday night

Paul Frank of Kokomo sends this Cheer for a resurgence in downtown Kokomo:

“I would like to give two thumbs up to the recent development in downtown Kokomo.

“This last Friday evening my wife and I went to the Kokomo boys basketball sectional with another couple. After the game we were hungry and it was decided we would go to Cook McDougal’s for a bite to eat. Since we were already parked close, we chose to walk.

“The First Friday event was still going on, and people were milling around from store to store. It was nice to see shops still open and people on the streets of downtown Kokomo on a Friday night.

“When we arrived at Cook’s, we found the waiting time was around an hour, which was great for them but not so for us. Fortunately, we had other choices. We walked a couple of blocks south and enjoyed a nice meal at the Fox Trail.

“Just a few short years ago our only option would have been to walk back to our car and drive somewhere to eat. I am really happy to see the rebirth of the downtown area. There are things to do all within walking distance.

“Good job to all who are responsible and keep up the good work.”

‘Use better words in the future’

McFarren Wright, president of the Kokomo branch of the NAACP, sends this Jeer:

“On March 4 in the Kokomo Tribune, there was an editorial titled ‘Words can discourage development.’ When I read the editorial, the Republican Party chairman, Craig Dunn, and Mayor Greg Goodnight were at odds about Jeff Broughton, a developer working in the downtown area.

“I was very offended by the statement made by Mr. Dunn: ‘I, for one, do not intend to allow Mayor Goodnight to turn this city into another East Chicago.’ I felt the statement was a slap in the face to people of color living in the city of Kokomo.

“East Chicago has been a noted slum area, where many people of color live, not by choice, but because of the steel mills closing. The city of East Chicago had no money to restore the vacant buildings.

“I hope that Mr. Dunn will use better words in the future to get his point across. I am glad to see the city of Kokomo restore these old buildings.”

Everyone benefits by expanding care

Douglas J. Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, sends this Cheer for expanding health coverage for Hoosiers:

“A medical epidemic is one of the worst scenarios a hospital can face — when a significant portion of the population is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness.

“Indiana is facing the equivalent of an epidemic that threatens the health of our people: Nearly 15 percent of our state’s population is without health insurance. Of the 860,000 Hoosiers at risk from a medical and economic disaster because they lack health insurance, more than half are children from low-income families.

“But, we can do something now to prevent this epidemic.

“Using $10.5 billion in matching funds from the federal government, Indiana can expand coverage to 300,000 uninsured Indiana residents — your friends and neighbors who have fallen into the dreaded coverage gap. They are the hard-working Hoosiers who earn too much income to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for tax credits and subsidies through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“When more Hoosiers have access to health care, we all benefit from lower premiums. And hospitals can protect existing high-paying jobs, as well as create new ones to serve a growing market of health care consumers.

“Twenty-six other states have already chosen to expand coverage, including those bordering Indiana — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois. We want to do this the Hoosier way, using a responsible and fiscally sound design based on the Healthy Indiana Plan, which currently provides health care benefits for 40,000 enrollees and is a proven success.

“How would we pay for such an expansion? We already are. Each of us is paying for coverage expansion in the form of federal tax dollars. By agreeing to expand coverage, we can bring those tax dollars back into our state to fund coverage for 300,000 Indiana residents. As a result, the average family would save as much as $677 in annual premiums.

“Businesses would save substantial monies as well. According to a report by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, large employers may be required to pay higher federal tax penalties in states that choose not to expand coverage — as high as $34 million here in Indiana. On the other hand, if the plan to provide greater health care coverage is approved, employers can avoid such financial burdens, better predict health insurance expenses and enjoy higher productivity from a healthier workforce — all factors that contribute to their bottom line.

“Without coverage expansion, hospitals are bracing for dire times. As part of the Affordable Care Act, payment cuts at Indiana hospitals will total $3.8 billion over the next 10 years — cuts that would be offset if uninsured patients had access to health care coverage. Already strapped with providing $3 billion in uncompensated care for the uninsured every year, failure to expand coverage threatens the very survival of many hospitals, especially safety-net hospitals that serve patients in urban and rural areas, resulting in limited access and a loss of medical innovation.

“By responsibly expanding coverage to the uninsured, everyone benefits, and Indiana can become a healthier, better place for all of us to live and work.”

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