Pence’s HIP 2.0 sends lifeline to rural hospitals

Keywords Opinion

With the approval of the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 waiver after months of negotiations, Gov. Pence and his administration are to be commended for their efforts to secure this innovative, affordable coverage program for those who need it most: our state’s working families. With HIP, more than 350,000 additional Hoosiers will soon be on the path toward a healthier future.

While our focus is on enrolling our patients so they can have improved access to preventative care and secure coverage, there is no doubt that this announcement also sends a much-needed lifeline to Indiana’s safety net hospitals. As part of their commitment to their communities, these hospitals bear the significant financial burden of providing care to those without insurance. Hospitals, particularly in rural parts of Indiana, also serve as the local economic anchors while also treating our society’s most vulnerable.

Indiana has 35 “critical access hospitals,” which are restricted to 25 beds or fewer. These hospitals are in rural areas where access to health care providers is limited. Patients at these and other rural hospitals are often economically disadvantaged, elderly or disabled.

Given federal budget cuts, the amount of financial strain on these hospitals is even greater. Without a significant increase in coverage to offset these cuts now, we feared Indiana could suffer from rural hospital closures like those in Georgia and other states. However, the financial stability of HIP 2.0 will now prevent many of our members from having to eliminate services, or even worse, close their doors.

But we must now turn to outreach and enrollment activities to connect our friends and neighbors with their new coverage options.

Hospitals are working closely with other community groups to reach uninsured Hoosiers who qualify to get them signed up. With a statewide network of more than 1,100 certified navigators standing by, qualified Hoosiers can get help enrolling in HIP immediately.

We thank Pence and all those at the local, state and federal levels who had a hand in making HIP 2.0 a reality. Now that hundreds of thousands of lower-income, working Hoosiers in Indiana can get the coverage they desperately need, Indiana’s future just got a lot brighter.
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Douglas J. Leonard, president,
Indiana Hospital Association

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