Democrats’ Backup For Medicaid Expansion Fails In The House

Rep. Ed DeLaney's proposal would have expanded Medicaid if the federal government did not approve the state's request to use the Healthy Indiana Plan.

house chambers

Photo: Emily Penguin (flickr)

The House of Representatives chambers sit empty in the Indiana Statehouse.

An amendment offered by Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) that would create a backup plan for implementation of the health care program failed Monday along party lines.

But even its opponents welcomed the debate, as some lawmakers call the issue one of the most critical of its time. Republicans in the legislature and Governor Mike Pence have made their opinions clear on the subject of expanding Medicaid. It will only be acceptable if the federal government allows the state to use the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, the state’s health care program for low-income Hoosiers, as its vehicle for expansion.

DeLaney’s proposed amendment would expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act if the federal government does not approve the usage of HIP by September first. DeLaney calls his plan a fail-safe mechanism for those Hoosiers who would go uncovered without expansion.

“It makes it safe for 440,000 people to have health insurance next year with our federal tax money that we’ve paid,” he says. “It means, if we fail, the failure does not fall on their heads.”

But Representative Ed Clere (R- New Albany) says, with the state and federal government still haggling over details of Affordable Care Act implementation, now is not the time for DeLaney’s proposal.

“I don’t think we’re in a very strong negotiating position if we say upfront ‘We’re just kidding,’” he says.

Clere says the dialogue in the legislature is only beginning and indicates the issue will be revisited down the road.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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