2015 TOP STORIES: State’ HIP 2.0 signs up 360,000 Hoosiers

After two years of negotiations and posturing, Gov, Mike Pence and President Barack Obama’s administration came to terms on a deal to use Medicaid money to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Starting last February, HIP 2.0 ramped up enrollment, soaring from 60,000 customers to more than 360,000. State officials expect the program to eventually reach 520,000 participants.

The expansion was funded by money approved as part of the Affordable Care Act and originally designed to pay for an expansion of the traditional Medicaid program for low-income Americans.

Pence’s decision to accept that money was controversial among his fellow conservatives.

“A close look at Pence’s plan reveals what is perhaps the worst of all the Republican Medicaid expansion ‘alternatives’ to date,” wrote John Davidson, director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in an article on the conservative website The Federalist.

But liberals questioned the Obama administration’s decision to embrace HIP 2.0’s use of health savings accounts and its requirements that participants contribute $1 to $25 per month to those accounts.

If they fail to make those payments, Hoosiers can be locked out of coverage for two months. If their incomes are below the federal poverty limit, Hoosiers cannot be denied coverage, but they can be switched from a plan with more generous benefits to one without dental or vision coverage, which does require co-pays.

With other states, such as Kentucky, looking to copy HIP 2.0, the Obama administration, in an unusual move, recently tapped the liberal-leaning think tank the Urban Institute to conduct a review of HIP 2.0. Pence asked for that contract to be canceled, saying the state has already hired a firm to conduct a review.

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