Pence talks healthcare with HHS Secretary 

click to enlarge Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Indiana Governor Mike Pence - THESTATEHOUSEFILE.COM
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Indiana Governor Mike Pence
  • thestatehousefile.com

Gov. Mike Pence met Monday with a key federal official in his quest to win approval for an expansion of a health care plan for low-income Hoosiers.

Pence characterized his conversation with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as “substantive” but he said differences remain between what the state is proposing and federal officials want to approve.

“We are not there yet,” Pence said in a statement. “Our administration will continue in good faith regarding our proposal to cover more low-income Hoosiers the Indiana way.”

The conversation comes three days after Pence talked with Barack Obama about the plan as the president came off Air Force One for a visit to Southern Indiana.

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. It could cover as many as 350,000 Hoosiers who are currently without insurance.

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.

“While differences remain, I appreciated the opportunity to dialogue today with Secretary Burwell and her team about our proposal,” Pence said.

A number of for-profit and non-profit groups and companies have in Indiana have backed Pence’s plan. On Monday, the Indiana Hospital Association also called on the Obama administration to act quickly to approve the proposal.

“Indiana’s hospitals have committed significant financial support to help fund the HIP 2.0 program and leverage billions in federal matching dollars,” the group said in a statement. “And support from hospitals has been echoed by numerous advocacy groups representing health clinics, physicians, mental health providers, as well as Hoosiers most at risk – the working poor and their families.”

Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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