Hoosiers urged to support health care proposal during public comment period

A Republican proposal to provide health care coverage to some 350,000 uninsured Hoosiers has plenty of support among local Democrats.

“We think it’s overdue from one point of view, we’ve already lost one year of the benefits that could have been created by a coverage (Medicaid) expansion,” said David Roos, Executive Director of Covering Kids and Families Indiana.

The HIP 2.0 proposal is Indiana’s way of taking part in the Affordable Care Act, but on its own terms.

At a town hall meeting at the South Bend Ivy Tech campus today, there were experts from Notre Dame and IUSB who have studied the health care situation, along with some ordinary folks who have lived it.

“I can’t afford insurance for me. The state, for whatever reason has taken away my daughter’s insurance,” said Rose Tinder O’Brien of South Bend. “One of the medications is $1,000. She can’t take that anymore, I have to pay for meds out of pocket now.

The HIP 2.0 plan could put coverage within reach of Rose and others, and it could create an estimated 30,000 new jobs for everyone else.

“Here in the State of Indiana, it’s true nationwide, health care is more than 20 percent of any local economy,” said David Roos. “And so we cannot afford not to do something to strengthen that portion of our economy and create new jobs.”

During the first year of the Medicaid expansion, Indiana sat on the sidelines and the health care portion of the economy arguably contracted.

“There were three major hospital systems that had major reductions in force, some of them over 6,000 individuals in one health care system,” said Roos. “There are many hospitals, primarily rural hospitals, but also large hospitals that have really been threatened by some of the new taxes that are imposed to help fund the Affordable Care Act and unless they can produce additional revenue, which obviously HIP 2.0 will do, they can suffer additional cutbacks and reduce ability to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

At this point, Indiana’s latest attempt to get in the Medicaid expansion game is just that, an attempt: An attempt that the federal government can either accept, or reject.

“Is that going to pass the muster of getting accepted?, that’s just the greatest fear,” said Ind. Rep. David Niezgodski. “You go through all this and they just say no. Now how long has gone by that again, how many more jobs could we have had, how many more students would have gone to Ivy Tech or other institutions across this state and how many dollars will we lose?”

Town hall participants were encouraged to make their opinions known during a public comment period that runs through June 20th (HIP2.0@fssa.in.gov).

The HIP 2.0 plan needs special permission because it requires an insured person to make a financial contribution of their own to a health savings account.

An answer on the fate of the program is expected in time to start enrolling participants in January of 2015.

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