By Matt Popvich
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The Healthy Indiana Plan can be used in place of a Medicaid expansion under Obamacare for at least for a little while longer.
On Tuesday, Governor Mike Pence announced that the Healthy Indiana Plan will remain in place until December 31, 2014. The state and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reached an agreement to continue HIP during a one-year waiver of the Medicaid expansion.
Without an extension, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration would have been forced to stop HIP entirely.
“Securing a waiver to continue the Healthy Indiana Plan is a victory for Hoosiers enrolled in this innovative program and will ensure that Indiana remains at the forefront of consumer-driven healthcare in the United States,” said Pence.
The Healthy Indiana Plan – a consumer-driven, health savings account-based model created in 2008 – is a way for Republican leaders in the state to bypass the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The plan will help to cover uninsured Hoosiers, but not to the extent of a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Unlike with Medicaid, those participating in the Healthy Indiana Plan must also share in some of their health care costs.
The agreement will allow about 400,000 Hoosiers currently on HIP to keep the service, but some will be required to become insured through the new federal exchange. Under the agreement, the state will also have the ability to change eligibility requirements for HIP if the cigarette tax revenues that sustain the program do not meet expectations.
Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) harshly criticized the HIP extension Tuesday, arguing that the extension does not solve the problem for HIP participants’ medical needs outside of emergency room visits.
“The stubbornness demonstrated by this administration on the Affordable Care Act would put a mule to shame, and for no reason at all. They continue to be unwilling and unable to do anything to seriously discuss a plan that will assure millions of Hoosier tax dollars return to our state to make health care affordable,” Pelath said.
Pelath went on to call the “continued intransigence” of health care in Indiana an embarrassment and failure.
The Indiana Hospital Association was pleased with Tuesday’s news. IHA President Doug Leonard called HIP a successful program which the association supports as a model to expand coverage for uninsured Hoosiers.
“With 2014 less than four months away, we hope these negotiations will begin quickly and will be just as fruitful. Cuts in federal payments to hospitals will accelerate as the Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented, making the expansion of coverage an increasingly urgent issue for our members and the health of all Hoosiers,” Leonard said.