INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is not worried that the federal government has yet to approve the state's request, initially submitted last February, to continue operating the Healthy Indiana Plan beyond Wednesday.
"I'm confident that we'll get an answer soon," Holcomb said Friday. "We've answered every question that has been asked of us, crossed every T, dotted every I."
The Republican chief executive said in his experience it's not unusual for the federal government to wait to act until the final hour.
He declined to say how state agencies are preparing to assist the more than 440,000 HIP members if federal approval does not come in before the end-of-the-month deadline, and they lose their health coverage.
"We'll cross that bridge if we come to it, but I expect we won't," Holcomb said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the agency does not comment on decision timelines.
The current version of HIP exists as a state alternative to the traditional Medicaid expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In 2015, Republican former Gov. Mike Pence, now vice president of the United States, received a three-year federal waiver to impose monthly contributions and other health-related requirements on HIP members that do not apply to Medicaid beneficiaries in other states.
Holcomb's HIP renewal request seeks to take the program to the "next level" by turning its currently optional job training services into a mandatory work requirement for all non-exempt HIP members.
Under Holcomb's plan, an able-bodied adult who fails to work at least 20 hours a week in eight months of the year would be suspended from HIP until the person satisfies the employment requirement for at least one month.
The mandate would not apply to some 300,000 HIP members who already meet the work requirement, are full- or part-time students, pregnant women, primary caregivers for young children or disabled dependents, older than 60, medically frail, temporarily disabled, in a drug treatment program or recently released from prison.
HIP members unable to find work still could satisfy the mandate and preserve their health coverage by participating in verified job skills training, job search activities, vocational training, community service or volunteer work.