INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state of Indiana sent a formal request to the Obama administration Wednesday to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to as many as 350,000 people.
It’s a Medicaid expansion under another name and the governor continued his sales pitch for it with a visit to a primary care clinic at St. Vincent Hospital to help drive home the importance of health insurance. 40 percent of the patients there have none.
“They go to the emergency department and our emergency department knows that they don’t have insurance,” a doctor told the governor, “and so they send them here.”
The governor met with hospital executives who would like to see HIP 2.0, the expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan, in place at the first of the year.
“HIP 2.0 is just an injection,” said St. Vincent President Jonathan Nalli, “to support our mission of caring for the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized.”
Pence said the state is laying the groundwork for the program so it’s ready to go when federal and state officials reach an agreement.
There was fanfare when the governor rolled out his plan in May and since then there has been bi-partisan support. Hospitals have agreed to pay new fees to help make it happen, in part, because a HIP expansion could also create thousands of new hospital jobs.
But when he met with reporters at the end of his visit to St. Vincent, the governor made it clear again that there is no guarantee that the federal government will accept his plan.
“Frankly, it’s very difficult for us to estimate how long that deliberation by federal officials and how long our negotiations may take,” he said.
It’s why he is still out building public support for a plan that is different from what other states have done because it calls for recipients to contribute through co-payments or health savings accounts.
The governor says that if the federal government rejects or waters down those elements of the plan, he will reconsider the decision to expand health insurance in Indiana.