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Pence Argues Federal HIP 2.0 Evaluator Has Anti-Indiana Bias

Gretchen Frazee
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence wants the Obama administration to halt an evaluation of the HIP 2.0 program, arguing that the contractor chosen by the federal government is biased against Indiana’s healthcare program. 

The federal waiver Indiana received earlier this year to operate HIP 2.0 requires the state to hire an independent evaluator for the program.  The state did so months ago and that evaluation is ongoing. 

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also chose to hire an independent evaluator.  And Governor Mike Pence has a problem with the feds’ recently unveiled choice, a group called the Urban Institute.

Specifically, the governor cites an analysis from earlier this year of several states’ healthcare programs in which the Urban Institute criticized some of HIP 2.0’s key components, including its health savings accounts. 

Seema Verma, a consultant who’s helped lead the development and implementation of HIP 2.0, says that should be a concern for Hoosiers.

“I think that they should be concerned about a biased evaluation,” Verma says. “I think that what we’re looking for is…you know, if there’s going to be an evaluation, it should be a fair evaluation.”

Verma won’t say whether HIP 2.0 would be in danger if the federal evaluation of the program is negative.  But she says the existence of two evaluations – one from the group hired by the state, the other from the feds’ evaluators – creates a confusing situation.

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.