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Few Voice Opinions At First Health Care Expansion Hearing

The state is holding a public comment period while it seeks federal approval to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan.

The White House delayed the employer mandate for a second time

Photo: Photo: Connor Tartar

Only five people spoke at the first public comment period for a new state-sponsored health care plan.

The first opportunity for the public to weigh in on Governor Mike Pence’s proposed expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan drew dozens of attendees, but only five willing to speak.

The plan, known as HIP 2.0, would provide health insurance to more than 300,000 currently uncovered, low-income Hoosiers.

Those earning between 100 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $24,000 to $33,000 for a family of four, would enroll in HIP Plus, which requires contributions to a health savings account called a POWER account.

Those below 100 percent would be able to enroll in HIP Basic, which requires no POWER account contributions but includes a co-pay and fewer benefits.

A 30-day public comment period is required as the state seeks federal approval of HIP 2.0.

All five of the speakers at Wednesday’s first hearing in Indianapolis spoke in favor of the plan.

Katherine Wentworth is the COO of Medwise, an HMO that currently provides coverage through HIP. She says customers are highly satisfied with the program and happy to use the POWER accounts.

“Low income Hoosiers are willing to contribute financially within their means using the Healthy Indiana Plan POWER account,” Wentworth says. “The results we’ve seen in actual practice with the high payment rates on-time validate that.”

Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, attended Wednesday’s hearing and says she’s not that surprised so few people got up to speak.

“I think until we get a fuller, comprehensive understanding of just what this plan entails, I think you’ll see a lot of folks that are coming to hear but not speaking because they’re just not sure what to say yet,” Breaux says.

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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