Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

February 27, 2013

Will Indiana turn its back on the working poor?

(Continued)

"It was important to me that we do fully fund Medicaid, but we did not fund a Medicaid expansion, nor do I think that under the current framework for Medicaid that it would be advisable for Indiana to do that," Pence said.

He reiterated that stance, with his office saying the governor "flatly refused to expand the traditional Medicaid program in Indiana."

In a letter to Sebelius, Pence requested federal approval to use the Healthy Indiana Program to serve an expanded Medicaid population.

"Medicaid is broken," said Pence. "In Indiana, an expansion of traditional Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would cost our taxpayers upwards of $2 billion over the next seven years."

Bills in the Indiana House and Senate advanced that pave the way for HIP to be the framework of services, though no one can say what those costs will be.

The Healthy Indiana Program currently provides health coverage for about 40,000 Hoosiers, though there are another 46,000 people on the waiting list. So with the governor ruling out a Medicaid expansion, the question is, what happens to the 350,000 to 400,000 "working poor" Hoosiers?

Clere cited the innovative Indiana health care programs - Hoosier Healthwise in 1995 and the Healthy Indiana Plan in 2008. He said HB1591, which would expand Medicaid, "takes the lessons of existing programs" and operates in a way that is "predictable and respectful of the Hoosier taxpayer." He explained his proposal would reflect "Hoosier values" while ensuring that "everyone has skin in the game."

The decisions coming in the next week and months come with billions of dollars at stake. The federal government will cover upwards of 95 percent of the Medicaid expansion until 2020, and 90 percent thereafter. If Indiana declines, it could cost the state billions of dollars.

So the decisions at the Indiana Statehouse made between now and April will impact scores of hardworking and vulnerable Hoosiers for years to come. The flow of these federal dollars could bring about 30,000 jobs as hospitals expand.

The question we all must ask is, what happens here to the working poor?

- Brian Howey publishes online at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Twitter @hwypol.

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