Another signer of the letter, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City, acknowledged that while the expansion of Medicaid is an issue that has "a lot of complexities to it," the Catholic Church sees comprehensive health care coverage as "a fundamental human right."
"It is not morally acceptable to have people literally dying because they don't have proper health care," Bishop Wester said in his Salt Lake City office Tuesday afternoon. "We have people whose only access to health care is the emergency room. In the long run, that person is going to suffer from having a lesser quality of life."
Bishop Wester views expanded Medicaid coverage as a "win-win-win" for Utah and Utahns.
"It is certainly a win for those who will get better coverage," he said. "It will also be a win for the state because it will create jobs. And it will be a win for the United States because it means we're taking that step into comprehensive health care coverage that will help us to reach those who sometimes get lost between the cracks."
But it is the possible positive impact on those most in need of help that is the highest priority to Bishop Wester.
"That's why the church is weighing in," he said. "Otherwise, it would just be a matter of politics, and that is not within our purview. But since it involves people, the poor and the needy, we feel we have to speak out."
Like Bishop Hayashi, Bishop Wester expressed appreciation to Herbert for "looking into this thoughtfully and carefully."
"We met with the governor, and he was very receptive and open to our input," Bishop Wester said. "He's got good advisers. He's trying to make the best decision possible. I'm just praying that decision will be 'yes' to Medicaid expansion."
Bishop Hayashi echoed that sentiment, as well as that faith-filled course of action.
"I keep Gov. Herbert in my prayers as he works to make this very important decision," he said.
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