Religious leaders sign-on statement supporting closing Virginia’s healthcare coverage gap

Dear Virginia Legislators:
As interfaith leaders in the Virginia faith community, we are deeply concerned about the rights of people living in poverty – including the right to quality healthcare. We base this commitment on the core value that each human being has inherent dignity and that society is whole only when we care for the most vulnerable among us. Affordable and accessible healthcare is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.  

Virginia has the opportunity to use federal monies to fully fund access to these services, either through expansion of existing Medicaid or by developing our own program. The ability to provide critical healthcare services, including preventative ones, to approximately 300,000 of our most vulnerable residents rests in your hands.  Therefore, we strongly urge you to support legislative pro-life action to give Virginians expanded access to essential healthcare coverage. We ask that you embrace the moral imperative to close the coverage gap.

Medicaid has become a critical part of our nation’s healthcare platform, particularly for individuals and families living in poverty. As you know, it is the only program that provides comprehensive health coverage to low-income women, men and children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Yet in Virginia, low-income non-disabled adults who are single without children are denied access regardless of their income. The majority of people who would gain coverage as a result of a Virginia healthcare expansion option are working, low-income uninsured individuals who generally cannot afford private healthcare. These Virginians need the security of quality coverage allowing them access to healthcare when they need it, without facing the all too realistic fear of huge medical bills or bankruptcy. Expanded coverage would also allow for preventive care rather than costly emergency room visits after an illness has progressed. All too often patients without health insurance delay treatment because they fear the cost; as a result, uninsured working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher death risk than their insured counterparts. 

As leaders of our diverse faith communities, our position is not based on any political theory or party affiliation. Rather, it is deeply rooted in the belief that every human being possesses an inherent dignity that must be respected, and that every person has the right and responsibility to realize the fullness of that dignity. When our commonwealth’s healthcare system leaves so many people uncared for – affecting human life itself – action becomes necessary. The Virginia General Assembly has failed to act for far too long.

Your position in Virginia’s General Assembly means it is your moral responsibility to create and support legislation that uplifts human dignity. We call upon you to work with us to close the coverage gap and uplift the dignity of thousands of Virginians during the 2018 legislative session. 

Yes, please add my name to this letter that will be delivered to Virginia legislators.