Governor Mike Pence continues to reject the idea of expanding Medicaid coverage to more Hoosiers under the Affordable Care Act, saying he is unconvinced the idea is fiscally responsible or gives Indiana enough flexibility. Democratic lawmakers called out the GOP today, saying they have to stop sidestepping the issue.
In recent weeks, several Republican governors, including John Kasich of Ohio and Michigan’s Rick Snyder, have announced their states will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane points out that all of the states surrounding Indiana will provide healthcare coverage to more of their citizens.
“So now that will leave Indiana as sort of the island in the middle and I don’t think we want to be known as the island of the uninsured,” he says.
Governor Mike Pence says he won’t agree to an expansion unless Indiana can implement it through the Healthy Indiana plan, the state’s existing health care program for low-income Hoosiers. He has also expressed concerns about the cost to the state. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says Republicans are only focused on the costs and not the benefits of implementing the federal healthcare law.
“That’s the only part they ever talk about because their pride is hurt that it is actually going to get implemented and I’m serious about that,” he says. ”They forget about the jobs created, people that will pay taxes that will come back into state coffers. They forget about the social costs that are eliminated by fewer bankruptcies. And they certainly forget that the most expensive healthcare is the one that happens in the emergency room.”
Lanane says though HIP has been a success, it is not necessarily the best option for Medicaid expansion.
“Medicaid is better structured,” he says. “We have more staff in place already to deal with the increased numbers. That’s going to result in more of a seamless expansion, you know, if you actually utilize the current Medicaid resources that we have.”
Pence says he plans to meet with representatives from the federal Health and Human Services department to talk about Affordable Care Act implementation and will keep an open mind during those discussions.