Letter: Catholic tradition backs health-care expansion

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I speak to you as both a priest and a physician when I say that we in Maine must accept the federal funding that has been set aside to provide health insurance for approximately 70,000 low-income people.

We all are created in God’s image. We all possess a basic human dignity. Catholic tradition affirms that health care is a basic right flowing from this sanctity and dignity of human life. Millions of Americans continue to go without coverage for health care. More than 48 million people do not have health insurance.

For low-income people, high premiums and out-of-pocket expenses can keep them from obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor when they should. It was common for me as a physician to see patients who waited too long to come for medical care, and even delayed bringing their children until they were desperately ill. They were terrified at how much medical care would cost.

Catholic teaching is that health care is a basic right, and there should be adequate and affordable health care for all. Far too many hard-working Maine people go without access to quality, affordable health care, and as a result suffer unnecessarily. Maine has a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with passage of LD 1578, to answer this unmet need for 70,000 Mainers and to accept the federal funding available under the Affordable Care Act.

The Rev. Richard Senghas