In a statement last year, U.S. Catholic bishops affirmed that health care is a basic right “flowing from the sanctity and dignity of human life.”
They went on to point out that more than 48 million Americans at the time lacked health insurance, but the number was dropping as provisions of the Affordable Care Act came online. The bishops also praised the expansion of Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) coverage in the law because it was expected to reduce the number of uninsured poor.
“Catholic teaching supports adequate and affordable health care for all, because health care is a basic human right,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Domestic Social Development declared. “Health care policy must protect human life and dignity, not threaten them, especially for the most voiceless and vulnerable.
“Health care laws must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers and others, not violate them. Coverage should be truly universal and should not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good and moral imperative.”
The bishops also raised an issue not included in what is commonly called Obamacare.
“The USCCB continues to support policy repealing the five-year ban on [all] legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” the bishops pointed out. “Legal immigrants, who work and pay taxes, should have access to such programs if needed. Removing the ban would help ensure that legal immigrants have access to health care.”
In their statement, the bishops noted that states currently have the option of covering some immigrant pregnant women and children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.