Cardinal Statement on State Health Care Funding for Immigrants*

As I do upon occasion, before I get to the events of my week, I would like to comment on an issue that is of great importance to me.

The Governor and the Legislature in the commonwealth face excruciatingly difficult choices this week. Final decisions about the budget bring together the fact of an economy in deep recession, declining state revenues and multiple human needs among the citizens of the commonwealth. Those human needs — for nutrition, housing and health care — must be a high priority for the Church and its ministry.

Our agencies — Catholic Charities, the Caritas Health Care System and the Office of Planning and Urban Affairs — are stretched to the limit these days, but that is the work we should be doing.

A particular issue of concern to me is the possibility that funding for health coverage for 28,000 legal immigrants may be cut in whole or in part. The Church, through Catholic Charities and through our parishes, is in direct and regular service of the immigrant community.

My hope and my request is that a way can be found to sustain health coverage for these legal members of our community. Their resources are few and their support system is always stretched thin. The commonwealth has done a very commendable job of providing health care to the citizens of Massachusetts. It would be a tragic mistake to let these 28,000 members of our community lose access to the precious good of health care.

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