Feds return Indiana Medicaid waiver application

Stethoscope health medical clinic
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal agency has asked the Pence administration to resubmit its proposal for an alternative Medicaid expansion because Indiana’s initial application didn’t include input from a band of Potawatomi Indians.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services returned the state’s proposal last month, two weeks after the state submitted the plan. Federal officials wrote that they could not begin their formal review until Indiana consulted the tribe.

“Specifically, at time of submission, the state did not meet the requirements for tribal consultation with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians,” wrote Angela Garner, the acting director of the federal agency’s division of state demonstrations and waivers.

Family and Social Services Administration spokesman Jim Gavin said the federal agency previously told the state it wasn’t required to consult the tribe. Regardless of the conflicting information, Gavin said that the state is sending officials to meet with the Potawatomi Indians and get their feedback on the proposal.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence has made expanding Medicaid using a version of the state-run Healthy Indiana Plan, dubbed “Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0”, one of his top priorities. He touted the proposal in a private meeting with congressional Republicans last week and spent a day in Washington privately negotiating with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Pence is seeking approval to use federal Medicaid dollars to pay for a hybrid insurance model with health savings accounts for anyone earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level and improved coverage for anyone paying into the plan.

This the second time the CMS returned a waiver request from the Pence administration. Federal officials returned the state’s request last year after determining officials had not held the public hearings needed before resubmitting the proposal first crafted by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

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