Do you see Medicaid as a life issue?

The nation’s bishops do. They immediately issued a statement Jan. 31 in opposition to the Jan. 30 proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to cap or block grant funding for the Medicaid expansion population.

“It is unacceptable for the federal government to walk away from its shared commitment under the Medicaid program to ensure care for all low-income and vulnerable individuals in our country,” wrote the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Domestic Justice and Human Committee in a joint statement with Catholic Charities USA.

Medicaid is the state and federal program that provides health coverage for people with very low incomes — notably nearly 40% of our nation’s children and 64% of people in nursing homes. The program supports health care for 15 million Americans with disabilities and 1.8 million veterans. It covers nearly half of all births.

As the bishops write, “each human life is sacred and possesses inalienable worth [and] health care is essential to promoting and protecting the inherent dignity of every person.”

Our American health care system is uniquely expensive among wealthy nations — totaling more than $10,000 per person. That’s 16.9% of GDP, nearly double the average of the other 36 most developed countries. And yet we have a lower life expectancy and a higher suicide rate.

We should be doing better. And for that kind of money, we should be covering poor children, births, people with disabilities and others who need help.

Being poor shouldn’t be a death sentence, for children or anyone else.