Pence, Obama talk healthcare on tarmac 

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Gov. Mike Pence snagged President Barack Obama just steps off Air Force One on Friday and asked for help winning federal approval of the state’s plan to expand health care to low-income Hoosiers.

Pence had asked for a private meeting about the issue and instead got about five minutes on the tarmac with the president. His office called it a “brief, candid and substantive discussion” about the state’s proposal to extend the Healthy Indiana Plan to include more Hoosiers.

“We have ruled out expanding traditional Medicaid, but as I reiterated to the president today, if we have the opportunity to build on the Healthy Indiana Plan to expand coverage the Indiana way, we’re open to doing that,” Pence said.

According to Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, the leaders discussed “the administration’s willingness to work with state officials in Indiana to expand Medicaid.”

Pence has asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approve an expansion of the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan, which the Republican governor has dubbed HIP 2.0. The plan would use Medicaid dollars and replace a traditional Medicaid expansion called for by the federal Affordable Care Act.

But the Obama administration has questions about the proposal, particularly requirements that participants share in the cost of their care. That’s not required in traditional Medicaid.

“We talked through a number of issues that have arisen in the course of our discussions,” Pence said. “And I appreciated the opportunity to call the matter to his personal attention.”

Negotiations between the Obama and Pence administrations are ongoing.

“More than two dozen states have accepted the administration’s offer that has given millions of American access to quality, affordable health care,” Earnest said Friday. “Thousands of Hoosiers would benefit too.”

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