Access to medical treatment should be a universal human right, available to every American family. That's simple human decency. Further, U.S. businesses shouldn't be forced to pay dearly to insure employee families. Government should fill that role in America, as it does in most advanced democracies.
Progress toward this humane goal will be abetted if Gov. Tomblin decides to expand Medicaid under the new U.S. ObamaCare system. We hope he does so. In fact, it would make no sense to refuse.
ObamaCare lets states extend Medicaid coverage to families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In West Virginia, this would add health insurance for 120,000 "working poor" people. One report says it would provide care for 2,600 uninsured West Virginia military spouses.
Federal funding covers virtually the entire cost. For the first three years, Washington pays 100 percent -- and 90 percent thereafter. West Virginians for Affordable Health Care estimates the change would bring $500 million in U.S. funds to the Mountain State, and also create 6,200 new jobs.
That's a bargain -- a win-win proposition -- an offer nobody should refuse.
Eighteen members of the Legislature -- including Senate President Jeff Kessler and the health chairmen of both houses -- signed a mass letter urging Tomblin to take this compassionate step.
Religious leaders, human rights backers, labor groups and others have been rallying for Medicaid expansion. Hospitals and doctors want it, because it would pay bills they now must write off as charity work.
Charleston physician Dan Foster -- a former state senator and this newspaper's West Virginian of the Year -- said it's cruel for "working poor" families to be denied care when their children are sick or hurt. "Of all the forms of injustice, inequality in health care is the most shocking and inhumane," he said.
Across America, some conservatives in "red" states have balked at Medicaid expansion -- mostly to defy President Obama and Democrats who passed the new U.S. health plan. A Christian Science Monitor commentary said this stonewalling "isn't just partisan politics; it's immoral." It explained:
"To date, as many as 17 states -- all led by Republican governors and/or Republican-controlled legislatures -- have either refused or are leaning toward refusing the Medicaid expansion. That means denying health coverage to more than 5 million of the 20 million uninsured Americans who would be eligible."
For example, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is determined to block care for 2 million low-income Texans because he thinks ObamaCare is a "power grab." That's heartless.
We agree with the Monitor commentary's conclusion:"Medicaid expansion represents an unprecedented opportunity to offer access to health care to millions of vulnerable Americans in our communities. It's the pragmatic -- and moral -- thing to do."