INDIANAPOLIS | The state's Republican congressional delegation is expected to vote this week to cancel Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, just days after unanimously cheering federal approval for the program.
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indianapolis, a Munster native who represents Newton and Jasper counties, was among the most effusive in congratulating Republican Gov. Mike Pence "for bringing this project across the finish line."
"Indiana has long been a leader in consumer-driven health care with the original Healthy Indiana Plan. Maintaining the principles of this highly successful program and expanding health care access to low-income Hoosiers, all without increasing costs to taxpayers, is a true victory," Rokita said. "HIP 2.0 reminds us that states – not the federal government – are best positioned to meet the needs of their populations."
However, HIP 2.0 isn't a state program. It is a state twist on a federal program.
Specifically, the Medicaid expansion is provided for by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which Rokita repeatedly has called "one of the most insidious laws ever devised."
That means when Rokita and the state's six other Republican U.S. House members vote this week for nearly the 60th time to repeal Obamacare, they simultaneously are demanding HIP 2.0, which they whole-heartedly embrace, be terminated.
The reason HIP 2.0 required federal approval is because the federal government is paying 100 percent of health costs through 2016 for the estimated 680,000 Hoosiers eligible to enroll. The federal share will decline to 90 percent by 2020 and remain at that level going forward.
The federal funds to implement the health law stem from tax increases U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has spent the past four years working to reverse, which if he succeeds would worsen a national debt Rokita calls "fiscally devastating" due to Obamacare.
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Pence, too, has struggled to straddle the awkward positions of supporting Obamacare repeal while seeking to spend Obamacare dollars to reduce Indiana's uninsured population and the nearly $3 billion a year state hospitals are forced to swallow in uncompensated care costs.
In his speech Tuesday announcing federal approval, Pence argued HIP 2.0 is different from Obamacare because it requires monthly participant contributions and imposes limits that don't apply to traditional Medicaid services.
"I continue to believe that Obamacare should be repealed," Pence said. "Medicaid is not a program that we should expand, it's a program that we should reform, and that's exactly what we're accomplishing in the approval of HIP 2.0."
Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, House Democratic leader, said the governor and GOP members of Congress have to realize they can't long pretend HIP 2.0 isn't Obamacare, and they simply should accept it is the law of the land.
"Look, the nation has already decided this, the nation isn't happy about all of it, but the decision has been made, and we govern better when we yield to practical reality and we try to make the best of what we have decided," Pelath said.
The Obamacare repeal proposal is expected to easily pass the Republican-controlled U.S. House, but likely will be stymied by a Democratic filibuster in the Republican-controlled Senate.
On the off chance it clears the Senate, Democratic President Barack Obama has promised a veto to keep his health law intact.