Healthy Indiana Plan extends trial run a year

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana is being granted a limited extension of its Healthy Indiana Plan while state and federal health care leaders continue negotiating a possible Medicaid expansion.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved extending the state-run plan through the end of next year while lowering the income level for eligibility.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday he was "grateful" for the negotiations with the Obama administration and is still seeking to use the plan as a vehicle for Medicaid expansion.

“I am grateful on behalf of the people of Indiana for the good faith approach that officials with the Obama Administration took in dealing with the State of Indiana on this issue," Pence said.

But legislative Democrats blasted the compromise. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath called it an embarrassment and a horrible economic decision. 

Tuesday's decision allows most of the 400,000 Hoosiers now on HIP to keep the service, but will require some to get their insurance on the new federal exchanges. And most of those currently uninsured will get no subsidies to pay for coverage.

"The governor is basically saying he's willing to let 400,000 people remain uninsured in this state. He's willing to tell them that their only choice for health care is to go to the emergency room, which is costly, wildly chaotic and expensive, and passed on to the other taxpayers and premium payers," Pelath said.

One health care advocate says Pence should just give in and endorse the Affordable Care Act.

"I never understood why the governor insists on wanting to continue a plan that was limited in scope in the first place, when we have 400,000 Hoosiers who could benefit if we fully embraced the ACA," health care advocate John Cardwell said.

Democrats say this plan will mean nothing to many low-income Hoosiers and will leave them in as bad a shape as they are not. 

Under the compromise, the income ceiling for enrolling in Healthy Indiana is reduced from 200 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent.

Those above that limit will be required to use federal subsidies to obtain health care policies.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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