Pence extends state's high-risk health coverage for extra month

2013-10-31T18:15:00Z 2013-11-01T12:14:10Z Pence extends state's high-risk health coverage for extra monthBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
October 31, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has directed the Indiana Department of Insurance to continue for one extra month the state-supported high-risk insurance program serving some 6,800 Hoosiers with significant health issues.

The Republican governor said he is extending the program because of technical issues that have delayed purchases of private coverage through Indiana's federally operated health insurance marketplace.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies no can longer deny coverage to individuals with ongoing or a history of health problems, rendering the high-risk pool obsolete.

A law Pence signed May 11 requires the program be dissolved when the marketplace opens or Dec. 31, whichever is later.

Stephen Robertson, the state insurance commissioner, certified Thursday that due to website glitches the marketplace "cannot yet be considered to be operating in Indiana," and ordered the high-risk program to continue.

The state will spend $6.3 million for the program in January.

Robertson said it may run longer, and continue costing Hoosiers $6.3 million a month, if marketplace operations don't improve.

State Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, agrees with Pence's decision to continue the program. But he chided the normally anti-Washington governor for choosing to have the federal government run Indiana's marketplace.

"These circumstances again point out the need for us to work with the federal government in setting up an exchange operated by the state of Indiana," Delaney said.

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