By Andi TenBarge
Groups that support the state’s plan to expand health care coverage for low-income Hoosiers gathered in the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday to urge the federal government to approve the proposal so it can be implemented.
Gov. Mike Pence submitted the proposed expansion of the existing Healthy Indiana Plan earlier this year to the federal government. But although the comment period for the proposal has ended, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have yet to act on the plan.
The proposal – which Pence has dubbed HIP 2.0 – could cover as many as 350,000 uninsured Hoosiers. Caitlin Finnegan Priest, a spokesperson for Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, said 59 percent of the people in that group have jobs but not health care benefits.
“We think this plan will achieve the greater good of coverage for Hoosiers who have nothing today,” Priest said in a statement. “It’s our hope that the federal government will give HIP 2.0 the green light – and we’ll be ready on day one to help people understand their new health care options and get enrolled.”
The plan would apply to all non-disabled adults ages 19-64, who earn between 23 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2014, that means a maximum income of $16,105 annually for an individual and $32,913 for a family of four.
HIP 2.0 would provide three plans for low-income Hoosiers, which have different levels of coverage and cost.
The plan is mean to replace a Medicaid expansion that had been part of the Affordable Care Act. Congress had mandated the expansion but the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that states couldn’t be required to provide it. That’s led some states – including Indiana – to offer more creative proposals.
In Indiana, a number of advocacy groups have supported Pence’s plan. HIP 2.0 is “Indiana’s solution to the health care crisis, said Doug Leonard, the president of Indiana Hospital Association.
The association was among the group that rallied Thursday to call on federal officials to approve the plan. Others included the AARP Indiana, Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, Indiana Primary Health Care Association, Indiana State Medical Association and Mental Health America of Indiana.
During the gathering, advocates acknowledged that CMS has no timetable for its decision. However, the Pence administration is continuing its discussions with federal officials to try to win approval for the plan.
Healthcare providers said they plan to work towards enrollment in early 2015 if the program is approved.
Andi TenBarge is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.