State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, is fulfilling his campaign promise to ensure Northwest Indiana children served by Medicaid can continue being treated in Illinois hospitals, instead of being forced to travel to Indianapolis.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 22-0 to advance Slager's proposal to increase what Indiana pays to out-of-state children's hospitals to more or less match what an in-state children's hospital would receive for the same care.
Slager said Indiana's current Medicaid reimbursement rates for out-of-state children's hospitals are so low that Hoosier children risk being turned away in the not-too-distant future if the rates remain unchanged.
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates Indiana could be required to pay an additional $300,000 to $950,000 a year to out-of-state children's hospitals if House Bill 1305 is enacted into law.
But Slager pointed out if out-of-state hospitals stop treating Hoosier children on Medicaid, those kids all will go to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and the state would end up paying the same or more.
Slager said preserving Chicago children's hospital access for Northwest Indiana families is more than worth it because a trip to Chicago with a sick child takes less time, and is less disruptive to family life, than going back and forth to Indianapolis.