Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

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.

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