Democrats Concerned About Low Income Health Insurance Waiver

The state wants to continue using the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, as its health insurance program for low-income Hoosiers not covered by Medicaid.

Scott Pelath

Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the state needs to make a definite decision on how to proceed with expanding the state's Healthy Indiana Plan.

Democratic lawmakers say they’re concerned the legislature is going to be left of out of decisions made about Indiana’s health insurance choices. House and Senate minority leaders sent a letter to the governor Thursday asking if a special session might be necessary.

The state wants to continue using the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, as its health insurance program for low-income Hoosiers not covered by Medicaid. The program is set to expire at the end of the year. Indiana sent an extension request to the federal government last month but has not yet conducted public hearings on the issue, which the federal government requires.

A spokesperson for Governor Mike Pence says the state knew its request was incomplete but wanted to get the process started. But now House and Senate Democrats say they’re worried by the time the whole process is complete, the General Assembly will be done for the year.

Speaker Brian Bosma says if the federal government turns down the state’s request to use HIP, the state won’t need to act right away.

“The governor’s opted out of the Medicaid expansion model and we’ll have another year to look at it and see what’s happening in other states,” he says.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the state can’t afford to wait.

“The people of Indiana need clarity and certainty on this matter; they need to know what the future is going to be,” he says.

In a response to the minority leaders’ letter, Pence blamed the federal government’s bureaucratic process for the delay in receiving an answer on HIP.

If the state does not receive an answer by June, it will begin dismantling the health insurance program, with Hoosiers currently using it forced to find other coverage options.

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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