Health care is a human right. This means that simply by being born human – and nothing more – all of us are entitled to resources so we can sustain our health and achieve a humane quality of life.

Part of what makes health care as a human right such a powerful notion is that it does not produce one definition of what “health” means and it applies uniformly to everyone.

Instead, this belief embraces the diversity of all bodies and minds, with their unique possibilities and challenges. It rejects the notion that any human being is disposable.

The question of whether or not our state will accept federal funds for MaineCare expansion simultaneously poses a bigger question: Do we believe that every person’s life possesses value and everyone’s health ought to be protected?

The Southern Maine Workers’ Center, a coalition member of the statewide Health Care is a Human Right campaign, answers: Yes – whether we are holding down two or three part-time jobs that do not offer health benefits, or we are no longer physically able to work due to an injury or illness, or we are doing the crucial work of child-rearing and nursing our loved ones, or we are struggling to meet basic needs while living below the poverty line.

MaineCare expansion will not solve all the problems of our profit-driven health system. Only a truly universal, publicly funded system can do that.

However, by seizing this crucial opportunity to secure access to care for some of our most vulnerable neighbors, we progress toward being a state that respects the value of every Mainer’s life.

Cait Vaughan

member, Health Care is a Human Right Committee, Southern Maine Workers’ Center

Portland