Healthcare is a human right

Faith Leaders Call for Passage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s Medicaid Expansion Bill

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2021
Contact: Colleen Ross, [email protected], 202-601-7877

Faith Leaders Call for Passage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s Medicaid Expansion Bill
Mary J. Novak: “Health care is a human right, a public good necessary for the preservation of life.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and Tammy Baldwin introduced the Medicaid Saves Lives Act to close the Medicaid coverage gap and provide life-saving care to millions of people in the United States. Closing this gap would provide coverage for the first time to about 2.2 million people living below the poverty line in the 12 states (primarily in the South and Midwest) that have refused to take up the option to expand Medicaid to cover people with low incomes.

Medicaid expansion is proven to increase coverage, narrow racial health gaps, and improve health outcomes across multiple metrics. Faith leaders across the country who support Senator Warnock’s bill call on Congress to swiftly pass this legislation. Their faith calls them to end the stark racial divides in our nation by expanding Medicaid to ensure everyone has access to care, reduce maternal mortality for Black women, and eliminate broad racial and socioeconomic disparities. Following Senator Warnock’s introduction of this legislation, faith leaders said the following:

Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:

“Catholics believe that health care is a human right, a public good necessary for the preservation of life. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the impact of systemic racism in our health system, with deadly consequences for Black, Brown, and Native American communities. Congress must pass Senator Warnock’s Medicaid Saves Lives Act immediately to close the Medicaid coverage gap and provide healthcare to 2.2 million of our siblings in non-expansion states.”

Rev. Dr. William Barber, II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival:

“Since last year 10 million more people have enrolled in Medicaid. This is the kind of coverage we need to be making available to everyone, especially for all of the 140 million poor and low-income people in this country. Providing for the health and well-being of every person is a moral mandate for our government and it should not come at an unbearable cost. Too many lives have been lost because they could not afford health care, not because it was their time to die.”

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO of Faith in Public Life Action Fund:

“No matter where we live, what we look like, or how much money we have, we all deserve access to quality healthcare. This cuts to the heart of my Christian faith. Jesus healed all who were brought before him. He never turned away people for being poor, and neither should we.

“Senator Warnock is translating principle into policy with this lifesaving Medicaid expansion legislation. As a fellow pastor and native Georgian, I’m grateful for his leadership today. He campaigned on ensuring that all Georgians can see a doctor. Now he’s following through. The pandemic exposed the moral deficiency of our healthcare system more starkly than ever. It’s no coincidence that the states where the virus is resurging fastest lack expanded Medicaid or were very late to accept it. Every person deserves better than this. Congress must remedy this wrong immediately by passing Senator Warnock’s expansion of Medicaid.”

Sana Syed, MD, MPH; Health Policy & Advocacy Director of American Muslim Health Professionals said:

“Expanding Medicaid across all states would bridge the Medicaid coverage gap that disproportionately impacts people of color by supporting the estimated 2.2 million hard working American men and women who cannot access affordable health coverage in their states. American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) supports these expansion efforts to ensure that all Americans have equitable access to health care. Together, we can close the Medicaid coverage gap!”

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said:

“I commend Senator Warnock for introducing the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, which would help provide lifesaving health coverage for 2.2 million people in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid.

“Nearly 60 percent of people in this Medicaid coverage gap are Black, Latinx, or Indigenous, and closing the gap would reduce racial disparities and improve health outcomes. Judaism is clear that we have a communal obligation to ensure all people can access health care. Indeed, revered Jewish scholar and physician Maimonides placed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services a city must offer if it is to be found worthy for a great scholar to live there. By creating a federal Medicaid program and increasing Medicaid expansion incentives, the Medicaid Saves Lives Act helps fulfill this sacred mandate.”



NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. They have a nearly 50-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good.