EDITORIAL: Pence should explain stance

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Mike Pence officially began running for governor in May 2011 and has occupied the office since January, yet Hoosiers still don’t know why he doesn’t want tax subsidies to help people buy private insurance. It’s time he made the reason clear.

As IBJ reporter J.K. Wall pointed out in a Nov. 11 article, the state is leaving a whopping $710 million a year on the table by rebuffing federal subsidies to bring 265,000 Hoosiers under coverage. Pence also remains reluctant to expand Medicaid, leaving another $590 million on the table.

The administration didn’t respond to Wall’s request for comment about his opposition to the subsidies for private insurance, so we’re left to speculate on Pence’s rationale. None of our surmisings, though, are apt comfort for people who need insurance.

One possibility: Accepting anything smacking of Obamacare would make Pence radioactive with the Republican base that will wield outsize influence in deciding the party’s next presidential nominee, and Pence continues to be mentioned as vice presidential and even presidential material.

Pence might also worry Congress will curtail the subsidies in the long term as it comes under pressure to rein in the national debt. Indiana businesses might continue to pay higher health insurance premiums as hospitals try to make up for their losses on what would remain a high number of uninsured in the state.

And Pence might hope the lawsuit filed last month by Attorney General Greg Zoeller renders the subsidy question moot by kicking the props from beneath Obamacare. Zoeller claims the federal government has no authority to subsidize the health insurance exchanges if the exchanges are not operated by states. Indiana is one of 30 states rejecting the exchanges.

Political aspiration would be selfish. Distrust of Congress would be understandable. And Pence is certainly free to express his stated support of the lawsuit, though he hasn’t necessarily linked the lawsuit to the subsidies.

Whatever his motivations, Pence shouldn’t allow citizens who can’t afford insurance to continue falling through the cracks.

Pence should state his rationale and then find a way to help those who need insurance now. If he has a better plan than Obamacare, he should make it known.

Holiday Wish List

One of the pleasures for outfits that buy ink by the barrel is using that influence to encourage donations for not-for-profit groups.

In that spirit, we urge businesses and individuals to watch for IBJ’s annual Holiday Wish List beginning Dec. 2 and then each week through Dec. 23. Based upon participation in prior years, there likely will be dozens of requests for items and services that not-for-profits can put to good use.

One request has already arrived—from HVAF of Indiana Inc. for men’s long johns, coats, winter gloves—of all sizes—and canned goods and twin sheets. Not-for-profits should submit requests for items or services (not cash) to List Editor Barbara Hoffman at bhoffman@ibj.com.

Let’s do as much as we can this year to help the organizations that do so much in our community.•

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