Hearings set for Healthy Indiana Plan expansion

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Two public hearings are scheduled this week on Gov. Mike Pence's plan to use Medicaid funds to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to provide insurance under the federal health care overhaul.

The Family and Social Services Administration said the hearings will be held Wednesday and Thursday on the state government campus in downtown Indianapolis. Wednesday's hearing begins at 9 a.m. in Conference Center Room B at the Indiana Government Center South. Thursday's begins at 1 p.m. in Room 156-B at the Statehouse.

The FSSA also announced Friday that it has posted a draft of the proposed Medicaid waiver to pay for the HIP expansion and other related documents on the Healthy Indiana Plan website at http://www.hip.in.gov/ .

Pence's proposal, which needs the approval of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, could cover as many as 350,000 uninsured Indiana residents who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. HIP currently provides health savings accounts to about 40,000 people.

Indiana has been seeking federal approval to use HIP, which was established in 2008 under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, as its vehicle to cover more uninsured residents.

The revised proposal would offer two tiers of coverage. The first would provide very limited coverage at little or no cost to people with household incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. A higher level called HIP Plus would include dental and vision coverage, a comprehensive drug program and maternity services. Participants would pay $3 to $25 per month, based on income.

A third option would give workers who can't afford their employers' health care can help with their premiums from the state.

The proposal would use federal Medicaid funds and expand the state's hospital assessment fee to cover the cost.

In addition to the public hearings, the FSSA said it will hold public meetings across Indiana to discuss the proposal. The first one to be announced will be held at 11:30 a.m. EDT Thursday at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, near South Bend.

The agency plans to submit the proposed waiver to federal officials in late June. A 30-day comment period ends June 21.

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