Religious leaders in many states have urged their state governments to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion to ensure that the most vulnerable individuals receive access to quality health care. Today, we add our voices to theirs in suggesting that Wisconsin do so as well.
In our respective faith traditions, a right is defined as a moral claim on the community to a good essential for human dignity. Access to affordable health care is such a right, and ensuring access is a common policy goal of long standing for religious communities.
God calls on us to care for our neighbors and to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. "For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land' " (Deuteronomy 15:11).
The Medicaid program is an important means to this end. For nearly five decades, this program has provided vital access to the most vulnerable members of our society. One of the most appealing and socially just aspects of the Affordable Care Act is its offer to provide financial help to states to expand their Medicaid programs. This offer of coverage extends the benefits of health insurance to those in our midst who have thus far been left outside society's "circle of protection" afforded by our health care safety net.