Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
People of good will accept the proposition that a state budget is a moral document. Choices made in composing a budget reveal the true values of the political decision-makers.
For a believer, central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, vulnerable and at risk, without work or in poverty should come first. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times. Pope Francis reminds us that “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”
In the current budget negotiations in Charleston, these moral measures should be remembered as the funding of such programs as Medicaid comes into question. Catholic Charities West Virginia tells us Medicaid serves more than 546,000 thousand people in West Virginia, a third of the state population. In fact, there are very few West Virginians who do not have a family member or know a neighbor who counts on Medicaid to help them handle high bills for critical health care services. Besides covering many hard-working adults without an affordable offer of health insurance through their jobs, the program also aids middle-class families with paying for needed treatment of relatives.
In order for our poorer and more vulnerable citizens “to be fully a part of society,” we must ensure their health. I call upon our legislators to care for the well-being of all our citizens.
Entrusting you to the care of Mary, Help of the Poor, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ, Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston