Pharos-Tribune

April 1, 2013

Lawmakers urged to accept HIP plan

by Caitlin Huston
Pharos-Tribune

— Hospital representatives are urging lawmakers to continue the Healthy Indiana Plan as the state considers its healthcare coverage plan.

Members of the Indiana Hospital Association spoke in favor of continuing the HIP plan — a health insurance plan for Hoosiers that don’t qualify for Medicaid — at public hearings last week. Doug Leonard, president of the hospital association, said though Gov. Mike Pence has said he supports continuing HIP, there is still some debate in the house and senate.

The HIP plan was originally created as a waiver program in 2007 under Gov. Mitch Daniels as a way to provide insurance for those who weren’t able to qualify for insurance, Leonard said.

“It was a new insurance for currently uninsured Hoosiers,” Leonard said.

The waivers offered were capped at 40,000 people, he said.

However, since the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act, each state has the choice to decide if they will expand the amount of people eligible for Medicaid. Gov. Daniels has said he will expand Medicaid, but only if the HIP plan can be used to insure them, Leonard said.

Thus, Leonard said the hospital association, among others, testified before lawmakers, who still are debating the expansion, despite the governor’s support.

“There’s still some debate in the house and the senate about which way to go,” Leonard said.  

Among the hospital association, Leonard said they’re speaking for the expansion because of the consequence it would have on expanding health insurance.

“We’re in favor of the expansion,” Leonard said.

Locally, Logansport Memorial Hospital CEO Dave Ameen said he supports the expansion because then more people could get preventative care and then reduce health costs overall.

“It gives the people a chance to get care,” Ameen said.

Ameen said it also helps hospitals like Logansport Memorial, which sees more than the average amount of uninsured patients, because it gives them back money that they lost when some Medicare funding was taken away.

“It’s got a huge economic impact on the community and the state,” Ameen said.

The next step, Leonard said, is that a national health secretary will look at the state’s HIP plan and determine whether it meets the criteria or has to be changed.

“There may be a slightly different HIP plan that they agree on,” Leonard said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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