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Healthy Indiana Plan gets mixed reviews at hearing

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Hospital officials praised Indiana's medical savings accounts but some consumer advocates panned them Wednesday during a public hearing as Gov. Mike Pence seeks federal approval to use the Healthy Indiana Plan to expand Medicaid in this state.

The Indiana Hospital Association and representatives of hospitals in Indianapolis, Lake County and rural Rush County testified HIP would achieve the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care overhaul and reduce the amount of indigent care they must provide to uninsured patients.

But critics noted HIP isn't available to everyone and even when it is, it can prove too costly for some low-income Indiana residents needing medical care.

"I do not believe it will do what we need to do to cover people," said Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie.

Pence has proposed using HIP to complete a Medicaid expansion for Indiana residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That's a sliding scale that includes $15,856 for a single individual or $32,499 for a household of four.

If the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services approves Pence's proposal, it could provide coverage for as many as 400,000 low-income residents. If CMS rejects it, it could end coverage for about 40,000 residents already enrolled in HIP. A decision must to be made by June, six months before the state's current waiver expires. Also, Pence has said he might not sign off on the expansion using HIP even if CMS approves it.

Ian McFadden, president and CEO of Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, backs the HIP expansion because the federal Disproportionate Share Hospital funding they now receive for treating uninsured patients might be cut as much as 50 percent beginning next year under the health care overhaul.

"The DSH funding cuts represent a great concern for our hospital and all the safety net hospitals around the state," McFadden said. "We cannot afford to wait. We must be prepared to begin enrolling individuals."

Doug Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, read a letter it sent to Health and human Services Secretary Katherine Sebelius urging here to grant the HIP renewal and use it for Medicaid expansion because it promotes personal responsibility among health care consumers.

"The IHA believes HIP has been a success and should be continued," he said.

Jennifer Phelps of Indianapolis, representing the Indiana chapter of the March of Dimes, said an expanded HIP would enroll women from households earning no more than 138 percent of the poverty level but Medicaid now provides prenatal care for pregnant women earning up to twice the poverty level.

Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, said some people who have lost health care coverage through divorce haven't been able to enroll immediately in HIP.

"They are not able to get HIP. ... They are not able to get the health care that they need," Klinker said.

The second hearing is scheduled Friday. Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault has said Indiana's application to renew and expand the Healthy Indiana Plan is expected to be submitted to CMS by April 11.

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  • HIP: Success Measures Not Apparent
    I have read numerous articles and heard quotes made by the Governor stating that the HIP is successful. However, I have yet to see any presentation of the measures being used to declare HIP a success. Is it because patients receive "prompt" care? Costs are lower? Healthcare outcomes are better? Where's the beef?

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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