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Indiana Proposes Work Mandate For State Health Coverage

Healthy Indiana plan

Photo: Healthy Indiana Plan

The Healthy Indiana Plan covers Hoosiers from 22 percent to 100 percent of the poverty line.

State documents show that less than 30 percent of those enrolled in the Healthy Indiana Plan would be required to comply with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s proposed work mandate.

Holcomb has proposed making able-bodied, low-income residents work at least 20 hours a week for eight months of the year in order to receive state-supported health care coverage through the plan.

A third of the program’s participants already meet that work requirement, and most members qualify for at least one of 14 exemptions and wouldn’t have to work. Exemptions apply to people who are medically frail, older than 60, full- or part-time students, or primary caretakers for young or disabled children, among other qualifications.

Residents qualify for the Healthy Indiana Plan by having an income below the $16,400 maximum to qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage, under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

If the federal government approves Holcomb’s plan, an estimated 130,000 people would need to enroll in the state’s Gateway to Work program or risk losing their health care coverage.

The state has offered job-search and employment training programs to Healthy Indiana Plan members since 2015. However, state records show that less than 600 individuals attended the work program during its first 15 months of operation.

State officials contend that the employment requirement would reduce Medicaid spending as individuals begin earning more money than the health plan eligibility limit or start receiving health insurance from their employer.

State records show that about 40 percent of program participants haven’t received a high school diploma, so it’s unlikely they would be hired for jobs that pay much more than minimum wage.

Officials with the American Diabetes Association have argued that most Medicaid recipients who can work already have jobs.

“Work requirements are contrary to the goal of the Medicaid program: offering health coverage to those without access to care,” said Dr. LaShawn McIver, the association’s senior vice president for advocacy.

Kentucky, Ohio, Arizona, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Florida and Maine have also applied for federal approval to have employment requirements in place for those hoping to receive state-supported health care coverage.

The federal government may have a decision on Indiana’s mandate as soon as mid-September. If approved, the mandate likely wouldn’t be in full effect until 2019 or 2020.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

  • lastcamp2

    Well, this is right out of Charles Dickens! You know, like Oliver Twist in the workhouse.
    “Please, sir, may I have some health care?”
    “What! Health care? You’d think that was a basic human right!”
    The Governor rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said, ‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for health care!’
    There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.
    “Well, the boy will be hung!”
    No, he wasn’t hung. He was just given off to be indentured as an apprentice to any trade, business, or calling. Plus a bonus of five pounds.
    The public policy of the State of Indiana seems to be that no one, excepting the rich, should be allowed to escape indenture into wage slavery, least of all the poor.

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