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Think tank hired to put state under microscope

December 16, 2009

Maybe this study will get more attention than the last one. The state of Indiana has once again hired Mathematica Policy Research, this time to analyze the impact of the 2-year-old Healthy Indiana Plan.

The New Jersey-based think tank will report annually on whether the Healthy Indiana Plan reduces the number of uninsured Hoosiers, improves access to health care, promotes personal responsibility and consumer-driven decision making, boosts use of preventive services, cuts chronic disease, helps reduce state spending and encourages doctors and hospitals to provide recommended care.

The last report Mathematica delivered to the state, in 2004, landed with a thud in the waning days of Gov. Joe Kernan's administration and went nowhere under Gov. Mitch Daniels.

That might have had something to do with its central conclusion. Mathematica noted that Indiana derives a lot of jobs from health care—at all the hospitals and medical facilities, from WellPoint Inc. and other health insurers, from Eli Lilly, Roche Diagnostics and myriad small drug and device firms. Growing health care spending only creates more jobs in those companies.

Nevertheless, Mathematica said that rising health care spending costs jobs as non-health care companies hire fewer people in order to avoid the massive costs of health benefits. If Indiana could slow the growth of health care spending by 25 percent over 10 years, the state would lose 16,000 health care jobs but gain more than four times that amount, or 68,000, non-health-care jobs.

The Healthy Indiana Plan, which offers subsidized insurance to Hoosiers but requires them to pay 2 percent to 5 percent of their income into a health savings account, is operated out of the Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. About 56,000 Hoosiers are enrolled in the plan.

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