INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Republican legislative leaders in Indiana are warning that repealing the
Affordable Care Act could unravel a program for poor residents that Vice
President Mike Pence implemented as governor, a conservative blueprint for
expanding Medicaid under the federal law.
Speaker Brian Bosma and GOP Senate leader David Long both said this week
that tens of thousands of poor people could lose their insurance if
Republicans in Washington enact some of the ideas they’re discussing for
repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
hitting home,” Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne, said Wednesday. “... The
issue of the working poor is real. It’s not going to be easy.”
Pence has been a
persistent critic of the law since representing the state in Congress. But
one of his legacy achievements after becoming governor in 2013 was expanding
Medicaid in Indiana, which overwhelmingly relies on money made available
under the Affordable Care Act.
The program, called
HIP 2.0, has covered roughly 400,000 people and was designed by Seema Verma,
a key health policy adviser to Pence who is President Donald Trump’s pick to
oversee the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It also counts on
the federal government for at least 90 percent of its funding.
launched an ad campaign to promote the benefits of the plan. A billboard
near the state capitol that previously carried an ad criticizing Pence was
papered over with an ad for HIP 2.0.
In order to enact
his own conservative vision for health care in Indiana, Pence sought - and
was granted - a federal waiver.
He wanted to make
sure poor people demonstrated personal responsibility and had “skin in the
game” by paying small monthly fees for coverage. It’s an approach that had
been touted as a model other Republican-controlled states could adopt. A
similar approach was undertaken in Kentucky under GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.
A spokesman for the
vice president did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Pence
told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “we don’t want anyone to fall through
the cracks,” especially not “the most disadvantaged citizens among us.”
But changes under
consideration by congressional Republicans would significantly reduce
federal funding for Medicaid and subsidized private insurance, creating
funding gaps for states and threatening a loss of coverage for many
participants, according to a report by the consulting firms Avalere Health
and McKinsey & Company.
Indiana and the 30
other states that expanded Medicaid would face the deepest cuts.
“It’s not shocking
to me that the federal government might not fully fund something they said
they were going to,” said Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican. “We’ll have to
reevaluate the program, the number of clients it serves.”
governors have voiced concern that a repeal of the ACA would have a
disastrous effect on poor people, some of which are Trump supporters.
replacement, new Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, has yet to weigh in on his
preference. Stephanie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Holcomb
believes it’s important for people to keep their insurance, but she declined
to offer specifics.