House Halts Medicaid Expansion Bill
House Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown says he will not advance a bill addressing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Legislation that passed the Senate earlier this session directed the Pence administration to negotiate with the federal government for healthcare expansion using key portions of the Healthy Indiana Plan, including health-savings accounts that consumers pay into for their own healthcare.
It also urged federal Medicaid dollars be given to the state in block grant form. But Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown says that bill is not necessary.
He points to legislation passed two years ago allowing the state to negotiate for expansion using the Healthy Indiana Plan as the vehicle.
“What we want to do is make sure that in negotiations we don’t box or restrict the path of negotiation,” Brown says.
But Portage Democratic Senator Karen Tallian says it’s wrong for the General Assembly to avoid weighing in on healthcare expansion this session.
“I don’t believe that it’s proper to just say, ‘Governor, go make this ten billion dollar decision on your own without any legislative input,’” Tallian says.
Brown says, if the federal government and the Pence administration make a deal for significant expansion, the General Assembly could pass legislation next session to approve that deal if necessary.
GOP Votes Down Senate Dems Budget Amendments
Indiana Senate Republicans Monday shot down efforts by Senate Democrats to trigger Medicaid expansion.
Senate Democrats offered several amendments to the budget bill aimed at addressing federal healthcare reform. The proposals included expansion either through the federal Medicaid program or a version of the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan.
Portage Democrat Karen Tallian says the state can’t afford to reject expansion because of disagreements with the federal government.
“It’s time to do this,” Tallian says. “How many Indiana citizens will be denied healthcare in the name of freedom?”
But Noblesville Republican Luke Kenley says there are still too many unknowns when it comes to expansion.
“So we are nowhere near ready to jump off this cliff just in the name of saying, ‘Well we did this and we took care of somebody,’ so we need to be more responsible than that,” Kenley says.
Republicans also rejected amendments capping money for the school voucher program and shifting more money to roads funding. The Senate could vote to pass the budget as early as Tuesday.