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May 14, 2014

Pence health insurance plan details reported

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence's plan to expand health insurance coverage to low-income Indiana residents involves a combination of health savings accounts, employer-sponsored health plans and private initiatives.

A notice sent to health care officials said Pence plans to use private market-based reforms, employer-based plans and health savings accounts "to transform health care in a fiscally responsible manner for the Medicaid-eligible population," The Indianapolis Business Journal reported Tuesday.

Pence's office announced he would hold events this week to discuss his plan to expand the state-run Healthy Indiana Plan health savings accounts "as an alternative to Medicaid to cover uninsured individuals in Indiana." The events are planned for Indianapolis and Fort Wayne on Thursday and Jeffersonville on Friday.

The Pence administration has been seeking federal approval to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to cover the Medicaid population in Indiana. It currently covers about 40,000 low-income Indiana adults. The federal government last year approved an extension of the program through this year.

President Barack Obama's health reform law called for expanding traditional Medicaid coverage to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but the Pence administration has sought to use the Healthy Indiana Plan to expand coverage for low-income residents.

However, the Obama administration opposes HIP's requirement that Hoosiers with incomes below the poverty limit contribute part of their income toward health insurance. Traditional Medicaid requires no contributions for those who qualify. Pence and other Republicans contend HIP, created by former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, promotes personal responsibility in seeking health care.

Any Indiana health insurance expansion that is approved by the Obama administration would be paid for entirely by the federal government in 2015 and 2016, but would then require state contributions that could rise to $393 million per year by 2020, according to estimates provided by the state's actuary, Milliman Inc.

It wasn't clear whether Pence will announce whether the state and the Obama administration have reached an agreement. Indiana is required to submit an application this summer to keep the Healthy Indiana Plan going past Dec. 31.

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