INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Hospital Association called on state lawmakers Monday to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act after a study showed expansion would provide the state $3.4 billion in added economic activity and support 30,000 jobs.
The University of Nebraska study, sponsored by the group of 164 Hoosier hospitals, determined 406,000 uninsured Indiana residents would qualify for Medicaid under the expanded guidelines.
Adding them to the Medicaid rolls would bring $10.45 billion in new federal health care spending to Indiana between 2014 and 2020, according to the study. The state Medicaid cost for enrollees during the same period would total $503 million.
The study found shrinking the state's uninsured population would reduce the $3 billion in annual uncompensated care at hospitals and cut premiums for insured Hoosiers by an average of $236 for individuals and $677 for families, starting next year.
"Expanding coverage in Indiana would benefit all Hoosiers," said Doug Leonard, IHA president. "This report demonstrates the positive impact that extending coverage would bring to our state's economy and the overall health of our communities."
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.
In upholding the constitutionality of the law, the U.S. Supreme Court said states cannot be punished if they don't expand Medicaid eligibility.
Leonard said if Indiana fails to expand Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers will be trapped in an insurance nightmare -- unable to enroll in Medicaid and prohibited from receiving tax credits to buy insurance on the state's health insurance exchange.
He said Indiana hospitals may be forced to cut services if they're required to continue absorbing billions of dollars in annual health care costs for uninsured Hoosiers.
A Senate committee is expected to consider legislation Wednesday that could expand Medicaid eligibility in Indiana.
However, the proposal is likely to be in line with the wishes of Republican Gov. Mike Pence. Pence has said he'll support expansion only if the federal government allows Indiana to run Medicaid its way, which is unlikely to happen.
Democratic legislative leaders have expressed frustration that Hoosiers may end up paying federal taxes to support Medicaid expansion in other states, including all of Indiana's neighbors, and not get an expanded Medicaid program of their own.