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Pence Medicaid expansion plan wins public support

Updated: May 28, 2014 5:21PM



INDIANAPOLIS — Health care advocates and lobbyists threw their support Wednesday behind Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to expand Medicaid using a state-run alternative.

Representatives of insurance companies and others called the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan a success at a public hearing on the state’s request to expand that program.

Pence rolled out the proposal to expand coverage for low-income residents earlier this month. It’s based on the hybrid health savings account plan already being used by the state, but also adopts some key requirements of Medicaid.

Pence is asking federal officials for permission to use the state-run plan instead of traditional Medicaid to expand health care coverage. If the federal government approves, it would pay for the expansion the same as in other states that have approved a Medicaid expansion.

Mike Rinebold, lobbyist for the Indiana State Medical Association, which represents the state’s doctors, said the expansion would promote the personal responsibility encouraged by the existing Healthy Indiana Plan.

“The ISMA believes in providing individuals, especially the most vulnerable Americans an alternative to traditional Medicaid, while empowering Hoosiers to take ownership of their health care,” he said.

Even those who originally supported accepting the expansion of traditional Medicaid spoke highly of the alternative proposal. Paul Chase, a lobbyist for Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, credited Pence’s staff with reaching out to various groups in crafting the plan.

“We applaud the administration for actively seeking stakeholder input and welcome the opportunity to participate in a similar process in regard to the possible expansion of the HIP program,” he said.

The proposal has won praise from many people involved in Indiana’s health care industry. But on the national scene, conservatives and libertarians have accused Pence of buckling in his opposition to “Obamacare”.

The state must submit its proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by June 30. Another public hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Statehouse.



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