Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

September 10, 2013

Federal government approved HIP extension

INDIANAPOLIS --- The federal government has given conditional approval to Indiana to extend its state-run Healthy Indiana Plan that provides health insurance coverage for about 37,000 low-income Hoosiers while officials continue to wrestle over what to do with the hundreds of thousands of state residents who remain uninsured.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence announced the decision by the Obama administration to grant a limited extension to the state-run insurance program through the end of 2014. As part of the agreement, Indiana will lower the income level for eligibility for the program, pushing about 11,000 current enrollees off its rolls.

“Securing the waiver to continue the Healthy Indiana Plan is a victory for Hoosiers enrolled in this innovative program and it will ensure that Indiana remains in the forefront of consumer-driven health care in the United States,” Pence said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services okayed extending the plan, known as HIP, “in order not to disrupt the coverage currently afforded in Indiana as the state continues to consider its coverage options,” according to a letter sent by the the federal government to Debra Minot, head of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

Pence said he was “grateful” for the negotiations with the Obama administration and is still seeking its approval to use state plan as a vehicle for Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act.

While 25 states have opted to expand the traditional Medicaid program using federal dollars to cover their uninsured citizens, Pence has resisted doing so. On Tuesday, he repeated his opposition to expanding the Medicaid program, citing concerns about long-term costs to the state.

Pence minimized concerns about the state’s estimated 300,000 uninsured residents who won’t be eligible for HIP or to buy the subsidized private health insurance that will be available through a federal health exchange program next year.

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