INDIANAPOLIS | Debate and discussion over whether Indiana will expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act will continue for at least the next two months.
The scene now shifts to the House after the Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 44-6 for Senate Bill 551 requiring the state's Medicaid office negotiate with the federal government for money to administer a state Medicaid expansion using components similar to the Healthy Indiana Plan.
State Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, the sponsor of the legislation, said she knows the measure is a work in progress, but also perhaps the best way for Indiana to maintain control over Medicaid expansion and keep costs down.
"I believe that this proposal is in the best interest of Hoosiers," Miller said.
The federal government must approve any conditions Indiana puts on Medicaid expansion.
State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, said she believes Indiana should expand Medicaid without conditions as eight other states with Republican governors have done, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday.
"We don't agree with the bill the way it's written, but we want to make sure it remains alive," Tallian said. "We want to continue to work on this."
Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, states are required to expand Medicaid eligibility to Americans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $14,856 for an individual or $30,657 for a family of four.
However, states cannot be punished if they don't expand eligibility.
Without expansion, up to 400,000 low-income Hoosiers who otherwise would be eligible for Medicaid could not enroll in the program and also would be prohibited from obtaining federal tax credits to buy private insurance.