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Currently, Utah parents lose their eligibility for Medicaid if they make more than $1,128 per month to support a family of four.

The Catholic Church considers health care to be a human right. All people deserve the ability to maintain their own health and well-being and to have decent hospitals and clinics to serve their needs. Unfortunately, admittance to these institutions has become more and more expensive, and affordable health insurance is lacking. Without health insurance, access to health services becomes more burdensome.

Our country upholds each person’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For this reason, our government must commit to providing families and individuals with the resources they need to care for their own welfare. Above all else, we are called to give a preferential option to those who are most vulnerable. Often, the poorest in our society have no voice to speak up for their own rights, so it is our job as citizens to make their voices heard and to expand health care for all.

Right now, and until the end of April, we have an opportunity to speak as citizens. The Utah Decides Healthcare initiative petition drive seeks to provide voters this fall with the opportunity to decide for ourselves how to spend our health care tax dollars, taking the control away from Washington and bringing it back to our own state. If successful, the petition would give Utahns a direct vote on the Utah Decides Healthcare Act, which would expand Medicaid and provide more coverage for working families and could help lower premiums statewide.

The initiative and act are integral to the pro-life mission supported by so many people throughout our state. By expanding Medicaid, we can provide health insurance to thousands of Utahns who go without. Now, Utah parents lose their eligibility for Medicaid if they make more than $1,128 per month to support a family of four. Individuals who would be impacted by this act are food service workers, salespeople and office administrators with few affordable options for health care. The Utah Decides Healthcare Act would guarantee health care to more parents, ensuring that they do not have to choose between good health and other necessities.

As Utah residents, we must stand up for one another and speak for those who are voiceless. Let us manifest our concern, especially for the most vulnerable families, by expanding our idea of basic human rights to include the right to health and well-being for all families across our nation.

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I urge you to sign the Medicaid expansion petition sponsored by the Utah Health Policy Project to allow voters to make a final decision this November to ensure that all Utahns have access to health care. In my first year in Salt Lake City, I have already been impressed at the level of social action taken by so many moral men and women. But social action cannot end when the legislative session ends. As a community that cares for each other, let us continue to speak up for families and make our voices heard as we fight to protect the dignity of all people.