Every major faith includes the admonition to take care of those who suffer in ways that can be aided. Humanists share this core belief.
Those of faith, along with their humanist neighbors, also believe that we have been given brains and the freedom to choose ways of providing this care when we can. Willfully withholding such care, when it is available, would require justification.
The Affordable Care Act offers states the opportunity to opt in or out of Medicaid expansion for eligible individuals and families in need of care, fully funded by the federal government for the first three years, and funded at 90 percent thereafter. Guaranteed by the ACA.
The governor of Maine has opted out by veto, thereby willfully withholding medical care from approximately 34,000 fellow citizens who would have been insured, while at the same time blocking a potentially very influential infusion of funds into the local economy.
The leading journal of health policy and research, Health Affairs, estimates that for Maine, the governor’s decision will result in: 3,137 missed diagnoses of depression, 953 exposed to catastrophic medical expenses, 1,862 diabetics going without medication, 1,055 women going without mammograms, 1,886 women going without Pap smears and between 30 and 160 preventable deaths.
Of course, this is not a complete list of preventable adverse outcomes, but it indicates the scale for Maine.
I am outraged by this governor’s action to withhold available care from so many in need, at virtually no cost to the state.
There is no call for me to reveal whether I am a man of faith, a humanist, a Republican, a Democrat or anyone else. This is a moral issue that transcends these divisions. All of us have good reason to share the outrage, and act.