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Critics Say Pence Dragging His Feet On Health Care Plan

Some legislators say they worry Indiana will miss out on the first year of federal funding for healthcare expansion.

HIP mike pence

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

Governor Mike Pence has been negotiating with the federal government over the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion requirements.

Critics say the Pence administration is not moving fast enough to develop a plan for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Debra Minott she says other than a passing mention, the subject of expanding the Healthy Indiana Plan to cover more people did not come up.

“So we need to have additional discussions with them to better understand what they would expect and what changes we would have to make in the Healthy Indiana Plan to use it for an expansion purpose,” she says.

Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) says she is worried the state will miss out on the first year of federal funding for healthcare expansion, whether through the Healthy Indiana Plan or Medicaid.

“You know, at some point we’ve got to make a decision in this state and we’ve got to choose what we’re going to do and then we’ve got to follow it through and execute it,” she says. “And we just don’t seem to be close to making any of those essential decisions.”

Minott says the governor has made extending the current HIP program his top focus, with any expansion a secondary priority.

But Pence administration officials say they are optimistic thousands of Hoosiers will retain their health insurance in HIP through an extension of the program by the federal government.

HIP, the state’s health insurance program for low-income Hoosiers, currently serves 37,000 people, with a waitlist of around 53,000. Minott says that lengthy waitlist is due in part to uncertainty over the program’s future.

If the federal government does not grant Indiana an extension, the state will begin dismantling the program in August, and those 37,000 Hoosiers will lose their insurance at the end of the year.

But Minott says she believes Indiana will receive definitive approval for an extension of HIP sometime this summer. Still, she says her agency is developing contingency plans in case the federal government denies an extension.

“We will also develop and undertake a communications plan to inform the members of the pending termination of the plan and we will work with them to find available options for obtaining healthcare,” she says.

Minott says other healthcare options include community health centers and free clinics located around the state.

Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany) says those contingency plans need more development.

“I don’t think we can assume that those programs can just absorb additional people. We need to know that the capacity is available,” he says.

Clere says even if that capacity is available, pushing people towards community health centers and free clinics is not necessarily the direction he thinks the state should go.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith 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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