Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

April 1, 2013

House committee pushes Pence to negotiate Medicaid expansion

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has insisted he won’t expand what he calls the “broken” Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, but some state legislators are encouraging him to do so, even it’s called by another name.

On Monday, the House Public Health Committee passed legislation that mandates Pence negotiate with the federal government to find a way to use expanded Medicaid funds to provide healthcare coverage for more than 400,000 uninsured Hoosiers.

The 8-5 bipartisan vote on Senate Bill 551 supports a plan put forth by Pence that exclusively ties Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act to the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan.  

But it also nudges Pence to go further if the federal government rejects his proposal – a nudge that the Pence administration questioned as valid at a hearing last week.

“We want the (Pence) administration to make a good-faith effort, it’s best effort, to create an option to cover these uninsured Hoosiers,” said state Rep. Ed Clere, a New Albany Republican who chairs the House Public Health Committee.

Senate Bill 551, as passed by the Senate, contained language that suggested Pence negotiate with the federal government about how to implement a provision in the Affordable Care Act that calls for states to expand the traditional Medicaid program to cover the working poor.

The House committee beefed up that language and also gave the state an out: If the federal government doesn’t come through with the billions of dollars promised to the state to expand Medicaid – as Pence fears -- the state could pull back from the expansion.

Pence has insisted he won’t expand Medicaid coverage as called for under the ACA. But he has asked the federal government to give Indiana millions of more Medicaid dollars to expand the state’s current program for the uninsured, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan.

The state plan, known as HIP, currently covers about 40,000 Hoosiers who aren’t eligible for Medicaid but who can’t afford to buy private health insurance. HIP contains co-pays, high deductibles, spending limits, and other restrictions that don’t jibe with the federal Medicaid program.

That’s why some legislators fear the federal government won’t approve HIP as a substitute for expanding the traditional Medicaid program. And they fear Indiana will lose out on more than $10.5 billion in federal Medicaid dollars over the next six years that could be used to cover Indiana’s uninsured.

But Clere expressed some cautious optimism for Pence’s plan. He noted the Arkansas has received tentative approval from the federal government to use federal Medicaid expansion dollars to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance for low-income residents who would qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Ohio is also in negotiations to do something similar.

Clere said that indicates the federal government is more flexible than it appeared to be just a few months ago. Clere said he wants to encourage Pence to take advantage of that flexibility.

“I have to believe that Gov. Pence would like to find a way to give hard-working Hoosiers, who can’t afford health insurance, access to affordable health care,” Clere said.

What Senate Bill 551 means, if anything, is unclear. At a recent hearing on the bill, Debra Minott, the Pence-appointed head of the Family and Social Services Administration, said the governor believes state law already allows FSSA to negotiate with the federal government on the Affordable Care Act and that nothing more is needed from the General Assembly.

Clere responded with polite disagreement: “This is a major policy decision. And I’ll be disappointed if the legislature decides not to weigh in with substantive and meaningful legislation.”

The original Affordable Care Act required states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $32,500 annually for a family of four. A Supreme Court decision last summer made the expansion optional for states but kept in place financial incentives. The federal government has agreed fully fund the expansion for the first three years, with the states’ share gradually increasing to 10 percent by 2020.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 10, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks