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Pence, Sebelius to meet on health care expansion proposals

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is scheduling a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the state’s request to use its own health care plan in place of a traditional Medicaid expansion.

Sebelius said in a letter received by the state Wednesday that her office is willing to work with the state to make the Healthy Indiana Plan comply with federal rules for expanded coverage. But she made clear that a number of HIP’s rules are not acceptable to federal officials.

Pence had requested the meeting in a letter Nov. 15. In her response, Sebelius did not mention an in-person meeting. But Pence’s staff said the offices are working to set one up for February when Pence will be in Washington, D.C., for a National Governors Association event.

I am grateful for the timely response from Secretary Sebelius and for her willingness to meet to discuss this matter further,” Pence said in a prepared statement. “We remain committed to good-faith negotiations with the Obama Administration to determine whether Indiana can use our proven consumer-driven health care model to expand health care coverage in Indiana.”

The federal Affordable Care Act required states to expand Medicaid so that it served more people with higher incomes. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress couldn’t order the states to make the change.

Since then, Indiana has been trying to convince federal officials to let it use the Healthy Indiana Plan – which requires recipients to share the cost of health coverage – as its Medicaid expansion.

So far, federal authorities have only OK’d a one-year expansion of HIP. Sebelius said in her letter that the state will have to submit a request by June 30 to extend HIP beyond 2014.

But she said the federal law doesn’t allow Indiana to receive full Medicaid reimbursement for the plan because it requires some of the poorest Hoosiers to contribute to the cost of the insurance and puts caps on enrollment.

However, the secretary said new rules would allow the state to use co-pays for Hoosiers who earn more than the federal poverty level, which is $11,490 for a single person.

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