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IN Medicaid costs expected to rise with or without federal health care law

New state estimates predict Indiana’s Medicaid costs will increase between $600 million and $2.6 billion over a seven year period once the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.

The wide difference in potential cost calculated by Milliman Incorporated, the state’s actuary, is based on whether the state decides to expand Medicaid.  If the state does not expand the health care program, it will still see an increase of $612 million dollars.  If full expansion occurs, it would cost $2.6 billion.

However, Milliman consulting actuary Robert Damler says the $2.6 billion dollar figure is based on full participation.

“We don’t believe that a full participation will occur; it’s more of an end point estimate.  We are comfortable with our best estimate, which is the $2.1 billion estimate.”

Health care consultant Seema Verma is leading Indiana’s ACA implementation. She says the state hasn’t made a decision on whether to expand Medicaid; that will be up to the next governor and legislature. 

Verma says much of the uncertainty revolves around the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), a state-run health care program for uninsured Hoosiers.  Indiana wants to use HIP for its Medicaid expansion, but the federal government has only granted a one-year extension to the program.

“We don’t know whether – you know, leaving aside the whole Medicaid expansion – whether they’ll even let a HIP program, what we have today, whether they’ll just even let that continue at our regular match rates.”

The state plan requires enrollees to contribute to HIP.  Verma says whether the federal government will allow that is one of the biggest points of contention.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.