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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. "This was a very localized, Indiana issue," he said. As in, Indiana failed to expand Medicaid to cover its poor citizens resulting in the loss of essential medical services, including this EMS company. Well done, Indiana GOP. Here are the real death panels: GOP state governments who refuse to expand Medicaid for political reasons.

  2. In the "one for all, all for none" socialist doctrine the sick die...this plus obama"care" equates to caucasian genocide plus pushed flight to cities thus further eroding the conservative base and the continualed spiral toward complete liberal/progressive/marxist America.

  3. There is a simple reason why WISH is not reporting on this story. LIN has others stations in different markets that are affiliated with CBS. Reporting about CBS blindsiding WISH/LIN due to CBS's greed and bullying tatics would risk any future negoations LIN will have with CBS in other markets.

  4. My best always! Dave Wilson

  5. How did Columbus, Ohio pull off a car share service without a single dollar of public subsidies? They must not have a mayor who is on the take like Indianapolis. Daimler Benz offers Columbus residents their Smart Cars on a market-driven basis: "This has some neat features. Cars don’t have to be picked up and dropped off at fixed points. You find one with your smart phone based on GPS, and drop it off anywhere in the service area you can find a spot – even at a meter. These cars aren’t required to feed the meter so you get free on street parking while using them. I was told this system was put in place on a market basis without subsidies – and that the vendor actually pays the city for the use of the meters." http://www.urbanophile.com/2014/05/26/checking-in-on-columbus/

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