December 1, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Time to make the right choice on health care; thanks for honoring veterans


---- — Time to make the right choice

The issues slowing the rollout of the health care law are inexcusable. The upheaval over locked out websites and dropped coverage, compounded by the hundreds of Hoosiers who gathered to demand Medicaid expansion at the Statehouse last week do however, serve to frame one underlying fact: Hoosiers simply want access to health care choices.

While website concerns can be righted and previous plans can be kept, some obstacles blocking Hoosiers from access to care are more difficult to dislodge. Chief among those obstructions: the governor and his calculated decision to deny as many as 400,000 Hoosiers a shot at health insurance. Make no mistake, his decision to reduce choices imposes costs on every Hoosier, not just the uninsured.

The governor’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion limits struggling Hoosiers to two choices for medical services: the emergency room or nothing. The state’s current Medicaid coverage only extends to those making 24 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), or about $3,600. However, tax credits to offset the cost of health insurance plans on the state’s health care Marketplace don’t kick in until 100 percent of FPL. What message does the governor’s decision to block expansion send to the 182,000 Hoosiers earning too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to purchase coverage on the Marketplace?

In effect, the coverage gap functions as a disincentive to Hoosiers looking to take risks and better their economic situation. Entrepreneurs considering launching a business or workers in need of retraining aren’t willing to bite the bullet and take the initial steps knowing that if they get sick, they have no options. The governor should be setting the table for talented innovators and Hoosiers trying to compete in the 21st century economy, not forcing them to the sidelines.

Expanding Medicaid would do more than just close the coverage gap and expand business development. Curbing the costly practice of the emergency room as primary care – an expense that’s passed along in the form of higher insurance premiums for all policy holders – would save Hoosier families a projected $677 annually. Expanding would also protect rural hospitals – often smaller towns’ largest employer – from the impact of spending cuts, generate as much as $3.4 billion in new economic activity and support as many as 30,000 new jobs.

The governor says he’s locked in closed-door talks with the federal government over Medicaid expansion. Negotiating with Washington is not the answer. Folks in Indiana elect legislators to deliberate, to collaborate and craft common sense solutions. I challenge the governor to defer to the legislature and allow lawmakers to develop an Indiana approach to expanding health care options that incentivizes Hoosiers to take risks and pursue success with the knowledge that if the unexpected occurs, they have options. It’s all about choices, it’s my hope the governor recognizes this, and rights his course.

Sen. Tim Lanane

Ind. District 25

Thanks for honoring veterans with meal

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Martin's for its wonderful meal and all the waitresses who took part in the Veterans Day meal.

It's a little late for this, but this is the time of year to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Carl Sell