To: Senate Human Services Committee
From: Kathryn Grafsgaard, Health Care Advocate
Subject: HB 1463 (Medical Assistance and Healthy Steps eligibility)
Date: March 5, 2007

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports HB 1463. The bill, as amended, takes steps to increase access to health care by 10,000-12,000 North Dakota low-income children who may not receive the primary and preventive care they need because their families cannot afford health insurance, or who do not qualify for Medicaid or other programs.

As a society, we have a responsibility to promote actions that further the common good and protect the inherent dignity of all persons. Access to affordable health care is a basic right that must be preserved, and the protection of the health and well being of the most vulnerable in our society is imperative.

Informed by our knowledge that health care is a basic right, we remain committed to the continued expansion of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (Healthy Steps). Improving coverage for children is a moral priority and an investment in the future. Expanding the eligibility guideline from 140% to 150% of poverty for Healthy Steps, with a corresponding expansion of Medicaid eligibility is a good step forward.

We commend the agencies, organizations and individuals that have worked to promote all of the health insurance options for low-income families, and recognize the recent gains in providing coverage to children under Healthy Steps.

We urge a
Do Pass on HB 1463.