HB 700 embodies two basic principles of Catholic teaching. Subsidiarity declares that things that can be done on a more personal, family or local level should be done on that level. This principle calls for self-responsibility and strong family ties. Solidarity recognizes that individuals and families often need help from others with more resources and that all of us are to act as Good Samaritans and reach out to the least among us.
In regards to the principle of subsidiarity, HB 700 asks people to become active participants in their own healthcare. No government program, including Medicaid, can be effective if people themselves refuse to take some responsibility for their own healthcare.
HB 700 requires people to purchase health coverage through their employer or through an insurance exchange whenever it is affordable. Premium subsidies are offered for lower-income individuals. There are also incentives to encourage people to access health services prudently rather than using emergency rooms for minor illnesses that are best addressed by a family doctor.
Regarding the principle of solidarity, HB 700 ensures health coverage is made available to some of our poorest citizens. At present, a mother with two children is normally not eligible for Medicaid health coverage if her annual income exceeds $4,584. HB 700 raises the eligibility level to the federal poverty line, or $19,530 annually for that mother with two children.
What will this mean? This will allow many working mothers for the first time to qualify for health coverage. At the present time, many of these mothers work two or more jobs and their employer either does not offer a health plan for them or they cannot afford it. HB 700, therefore, will reward work and uphold the dignity of all working people.