Porter urges governor to drive more resources to African American communities in Indiana as they are experiencing higher rates of death from COVID-19
INDIANAPOLIS — Today, State Representative Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), Ranking Minority Member of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee and member of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), urged Governor Holcomb to drive more funding to African American communities across the state because they are experiencing higher rates of death from COVID-19.
In a letter to Holcomb, Porter outlined the various funding available to support the African American community and other minority communities as they continue to face this deadly virus.
Here is the text of the letter:
April 22, 2020
Dear Governor Holcomb:
First of all, I appreciate the informative daily public updates you have been providing to the citizens of Indiana. As our state adjusts and moves forward, it is my hope and prayer that we can collectively and collaboratively address the disparate adverse impact that the COVID-19 is having on people of color in Indiana. As you know, the statistics on this ravaging disease show that with only 9.8 percent of Indiana's population African American's are experiencing a 20 percent share of all Indiana COVID-19 cases.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most if not all health disparities, African Americans and other communities of color are the most impacted populations. These communities of color are also the most underfunded and neglected areas when it comes to resources being devoted to address the inequities in the provision of health care funding.
I believe that time is of the essence to immediately begin to tangibly direct meaningful resources to the recent recommendations of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC). As you know, these recommendations include the establishment of a Health Disparity Task Force, and Essential Workers Paid Leave and Hazard Pay among other specifically identified immediate needs. Even with the various requests that are starting to come in when it comes to funding the response to the COVID-19 crisis, I believe that it is essential to secure a down payment on these initiatives while the public has heightened focus on the situation.
Specifically, I hope you would seriously consider and act to set aside that $5 million dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund as an initial down payment to address the IBLC recommendations.
In addition, I have been informed that Indiana has just received their latest installment of Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement dollars. The latest payment of $130 million dollars should afford some flexibility to the State when it comes to further funding the unmet needs attributable to our State's health disparities. In this regard, I am suggesting that health programs such as the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Local Health Departments, and Community Health Centers receive an augmentation in their respective funding. An augmentation of funding for the aforementioned programs can be easily facilitated since these programs are already receiving TMSA funding.
Please feel free to contact me directly to discuss these funding opportunities further at your convenience as we strive together to mitigate the horrendous impact of COVID-19 on communities of color in the Hoosier State. Working for a healthier Indiana, I await your response.
Gregory W. Porter
Ranking Minority Member
Ways and Means Committee