INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said no to an expansion of traditional Medicaid under Obamacare, but now wants to use Obamacare money to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan.
It’s a big shift and it’s evidence that, in politics, labels matter.
The Republican governor calls the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP as it’s known, an alternative to Medicaid and Medicaid reform.
Thursday, he unveiled HIP 2.0 in a crowded hospital auditorium. It’s a plan that could provide health care coverage to people in Indiana who are uninsured.
Unlike Medicaid, it would require them to contribute to a health savings account or make co-pays.
“We’re reforming Medicaid in Indiana and hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers will have better access to quality health care,” said Pence, “as they aspire to a better life because Indiana’s leading the way.”
Among those in the audience was Beth Murphy, who has no health insurance.
“I can’t afford it,” she said. “This will give me a chance to be able to afford it now.”
State Representative Ed Clere of New Albany is a Republican who has prodded the Pence administration to join neighboring states who expanded Medicaid. He said the governor’s plan is part of an evolution.
“I think it’s just taken time to get to this point,” said Clere, “and I’m just glad we’re here.”
Democrats say it’s a workable plan.
“I think it’s a little tardy. I think we should have come at some of these decisions a year ago,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, “but I think there’s a chance to take a step in the right direction.”
Some of the money for HIP 2.0 would come from cigarette taxes and a hospital assessment fee but half of it will come from the federal government.
“We’re not there yet. We don’t have an agreement,” said the governor. “We don’t have the approval yet but think I am cautiously optimistic.”
The Pence Administration has been negotiating with the federal government since sometime last year. If it finally wins approval, HIP 2.0 won’t take effect until next year.