Legislators suggest Pence undermining health plan rollout

2013-10-22T17:15:00Z 2013-10-23T06:58:07Z Legislators suggest Pence undermining health plan rolloutBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
October 22, 2013 5:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Lawmakers from both political parties pushed back against the Pence administration's implementation of the Affordable Care Act Tuesday during an Obamacare presentation by the Indiana Department of Insurance.

State Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said Republican Gov. Mike Pence's refusal to accept full federal funding for an expanded Medicaid program is trapping tens of thousands of Hoosiers in a gap where they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to obtain subsidized private coverage.

"If they make more than $11 a day but they make less than $11,000 a year, they don't get medical coverage, they have to go to the emergency room," Stoops said. "We are surrounded by states that have Medicaid expansion. Are we telling these people to move out of state?"

Logan Harrison, chief deputy at the Department of Insurance, said he couldn't answer that question because he's not a Medicaid expert.

State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, noted that Pence won federal permission earlier this year to add about 10,000 low-income Hoosiers to the Healthy Indiana Plan -- a joint federal-state program similar to high-deductible health insurance.

However, as part of that deal, current HIP participants who make more than $11,490 a year will be kicked off and forced to buy coverage through the federally operated Indiana insurance marketplace.

State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, suggested those people, and other Hoosiers planning to buy insurance on the marketplace, are being discouraged from using it by Pence administration cost comparisons that are misleading at best.

Clere said the Department of Insurance "overstated" estimates showing the cost of marketplace policies will jump 72 percent next year.

He said the Pence team shouldn't have compared ultrahigh-deductible policies with few benefits to Affordable Care Act plans that require coverage for doctor visits, maternal care, prescription drugs and mental health, among other services.

"It's really not an apples-to-apples comparison and I'd like to suggest further analysis," Clere said.

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