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Healthy Indiana Plan receives one year extension

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

More than 36,000 low-income Hoosiers with health insurance through the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) will get to keep their coverage for another year.  Indiana reached an agreement with the federal government for an extension of the state’s health insurance program through 2014.

Under HIP’s one year extension, the program will undergo some changes.  Currently, a family of four earning about $47,000 annually, which is 200% of the federal poverty level, is eligible for the program; that income threshold will be lowered to 100%, roughly $23,000 a year for that family of four.

Governor Mike Pence says that’s because those making more than 100% of the poverty level will be eligible for tax credits through a healthcare exchange established by the Affordable Care Act.

“That frees up space for people to enroll in the Healthy Indiana Plan that doesn’t exist today.  So there will be more people that move into the exchanges and then it will free up about 10,000 more spots here.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says obtaining only a HIP extension merely relieves the fears of a fraction of Hoosiers.

“The governor is basically saying he’s willing to let 400,000 people remain uninsured in this state.  He’s willing to tell them that their only choice for healthcare is to go to the emergency room, which is costly, wildly chaotic and expensive and passed on to the other taxpayers and premium payers.”

Pence says the healthcare exchange – and the tax credits that come with it – will make healthcare coverage more available to many of the state’s uninsured population.  He also says he’s looking to advance the conversation.

“We’re going to continue a good faith dialogue and discussions with federal officials about how and in what way we might be able to expand consumer driven healthcare in the state of Indiana.”

Pelath says it’s clear the only program capable of expanding healthcare coverage to thousands of uninsured Hoosiers is Medicaid, through the Affordable Care Act.

“And the fact is, they just don’t want to do it.  And they don’t have a good reason; it’s purely about politics and posturing and it has nothing to do with actually making people’s lives better.”

Pence and state Republican legislative leaders have ruled out Medicaid expansion, saying they’re concerned about costs the state could eventually incur.

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.
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