The Pence administration says a primary reason for legislation it’s pushing to enshrine the Healthy Indiana Plan in state statute is to give the state leverage in next year’s negotiation with the federal government over the program’s renewal.
The bill to codify HIP 2.0 cleared the Senate earlier this session with relative ease. Its path through the House was a little more difficult as lawmakers there expressed more skepticism about the idea of enshrining the program’s specifics in state law.
Critics argue that makes it harder for state and federal officials to make any changes that might be necessary to the one-year-old health care program. That skepticism remains as legislators work out a final agreement on the bill – as in an exchange Monday between Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) and Seema Verma, the Pence administration’s lead health care consultant.
“Why is it critical to do this after year one?” Breaux asked.
“Because we’ll be going into negotiations in 2017 to start the program in 2018,” Verma said. “So it’s important to have that going into the discussions.”
“So what we’re trying to do is tie the hands of the federal government in the negotiation process?” Breaux said.
“We’re trying to send a message to the federal government about the program and the state’s commitment to the core principles,” Verma said.
Verma says if any changes are necessary, the bill ensures they’re done in cooperation with the General Assembly. Lawmakers have until Thursday to approve the bill’s final version.