INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana could become the latest state to expand health coverage for
low-income residents if the federal government signs off on a proposal
rolled out by Gov. Mike Pence Thursday that alters a state-run plan to meet
requirements under President Barack Obama’s health reform law.
Pence’s “HIP 2.0”
could cover upward of 350,000 uninsured residents earning up to 138 percent
of the federal poverty level. The proposal is an altered version of the
state’s Healthy Indiana Plan, which currently provides health savings
accounts to about 40,000 people. Indiana has been seeking federal approval
to use the program, which was established in 2008 under former Gov. Mitch
Daniels, as its vehicle to cover more uninsured residents.
Pence sought to
distance his proposal from Medicaid, while Democrats praised him for
accepting an expansion of Medicaid. In reality, the proposal blends features
of the Healthy Indiana Plan, but includes some key features of Medicaid.
Pence has long
objected to an expansion of Medicaid, which he calls “broken” and a “fiscal
monstrosity.” Indiana has been seeking a waiver from Obama’s health reform
law to use the Healthy Indiana Plan instead, but federal officials have
objected to some of the program’s requirements, including a provision that
recipients contribute the first $1,100 toward their care. A one-year
extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan expires Dec. 31.
proposal, which Pence unveiled at Indiana University Health’s Methodist
Hospital in Indianapolis, would offer two tiers of coverage. The first would
provide very limited coverage at little or no cost to those below 100
percent of the federal poverty level. A higher level dubbed HIP Plus would
include dental and vision coverage, a comprehensive drug program and
maternity services. Participants would pay $3 to $25 per month, based on
A third option
would give workers who can’t afford their employers’ health care can help
with their premiums from the state.
The proposal would
use federal funds and expand the state’s hospital assessment fee to cover
Pence said the
expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan would help low-income residents be
personally responsible for their health, unlike traditional Medicaid. The
plan also includes a program that will connect HIP recipients with
state-sponsored job training and job search programs.
“HIP is not
intended to be an entitlement. It is a safety net program that aligns
incentives with human aspirations,” Pence said.
He described his
visits with patients around the state, including a woman named Diana who had
held off going to the hospital for treatment because she lacked health care
“I think Diana is
like a lot of Hoosiers who don’t want a handout; they want a hand up,” he
The proposal needs
approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which
administers the federal health reform law. Pence said Indiana will submit
its plan by the end of June.
who have been asking Pence to expand Medicaid for well more than a year,
gave the proposal a tepid response Thursday.
“I respect that
this plan aligns with his personal beliefs, but I have serious concerns that
it is an untested proposal that will still fail to provide critical health
coverage to thousands of Hoosiers,” said U.S. Rep. Andre Carson,
D-Indianapolis, in a statement.
Members of the
Indiana Hospital Association, which have long pushed for a Medicaid
expansion because of the money it would bring in, worked with Pence’s
administration in crafting a proposal.
“For many years,
hospitals have struggled to keep up with the staggering cost of
uncompensated care - as much as $3 billion in one year alone,” said Mike
Packnett, chairman of the IHA board of directors, in a statement.