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May 20, 2014

THEIR VIEW: HIP 2.0 might just be a better plan for Hoosiers in need

Plans to expand Indiana’s Health Indiana Plan show Gov. Mike Pence understands many Hoosiers deserve help getting health insurance.

It also shows his devout belief that Indiana can put together a more effective method for providing help than the federal government can through Medicaid.

While we’ve strongly supported expanding Medicaid, Pence just may have a better way.

The HIP 2.0 plan announced Thursday will insure 350,000 Hoosiers. That’s in the ball park of the 300,000 to 400,000 people Medicaid expansion would cover, and much healthier than the 40,000 covered by the existing Healthy Indiana Plan.

The plan has three tiers — HIP Link, HIP Plus and HIP Basic. Link is a premium assistance program for people who have access to insurance through work but can’t afford it. Plus requires participants to contribute from $3 to $25 a month into a Health Savings Account, or HSA. Basic is the default program for people who are under 100 percent of the federal poverty level and can’t make even the Plus-level payments into an HSA.

There are many more details, but in essence, the system is consumer-driven and based in the private market place, unlike Medicaid.

That’s what the governor wanted, and that’s what’s been designed. It encourages Hoosiers to take charge of their health care and gives them the ability to act as consumers in the health care market.

Pence’s prepared remarks revealed, perhaps unintentionally, the political battle that underlies his plan. “(F)rom the beginning of my tenure as governor, we have been saying ‘no’ to the Affordable Care Act in Indiana. We refused to set up a state-based exchange, and we have made it clear that we will not expand traditional Medicaid.”

Never mind the federal government would have paid 100 percent of the expansion costs for three years, and at least 90 percent of the costs after that, to provide insurance to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers who needed it. Too often, while people hurt, political differences delay relief.

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The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

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