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Republicans Reject Medicaid Expansion

Republicans in the statehouse rejected a Democratic plan to increase Medicaid eligibility in the state.

Republican state lawmakers Wednesday rejected an expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. They propose instead to continue using the Healthy Indiana Plan.

A proposal by Democrats on the Senate Health and Provider Services committee would expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – roughly 15 thousand dollars per year.

Democrats cite a recent study from the Indiana Hospital Association that says the expansion will create 30 thousand jobs and generate up to 3.4 billion dollars in economic activity by 2020. But Seema Verma, the state’s healthcare consultant, says the Hospital Association’s study doesn’t take into account significant costs.

“If you’re going to expand the Medicaid program to not address physician fees, I think there’s a lot of concern that you would be providing cards to people and they wouldn’t have a place to go because providers may not accept them,” Verma says.

Republicans voted down the Democrats’ proposal, opting instead to move forward with a plan to expand healthcare coverage using the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, the state’s current health insurance program for low-income Hoosiers. The federal government has declined that request in the past, though Verma says it hasn’t been outright denied.

Indianapolis Democratic Senator Jean Breaux says by trying to use HIP, the state runs the risk of losing out on cash.

“If we do not do something here in Indiana then our dollars will be going out to fund healthcare for other state while our own constituents, our own Hoosiers, do not have healthcare for themselves,” he says.

Governor Mike Pence reemphasized his rejection of a Medicaid expansion in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Wednesday. In the letter, Pence also requested a three-year extension for HIP.

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