By Daniel R. Gangler

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced Tuesday (Jan. 27) the acceptance of his administration’s Heathy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services following seven months of intense negotiations. He made the announcement to more than 200 healthcare workers and other people interested in providing healthcare insurance to low-income Hoosiers. The announcement was made at the St. Vincent Ruth Lilly Conference Center in Indianapolis. 

Members of the Indiana Conference United Methodist Social Advocacy Team have worked for more than two years with more than 40 healthcare, faith-based and non-profit organizations in the Cover Indiana coalition for an expansion of healthcare insurance for lower income Hoosiers. Cover Indiana supported an Indiana Medicaid expansion program to assure health care for more than 350,000 working Hoosiers who have no coverage.

Nearly two years ago, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner joined with three other statewide faith leaders from the Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran and the Christian (DOC) churches in support of Medicaid expansion.

According to Pence, the newly expanded HIP is up and running and enrollment begins Feb. 1. Pence said the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, a revamped version of a program started eight years ago by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, goes beyond standard Medicaid expansion by requiring that participants contribute to the cost of their care.

With the announcement, Indiana becomes the 28th state to extend Medicaid coverage.

“I believe Medicaid is not a program we should expand. It’s a program that we should reform – and that’s exactly what we’re accomplishing,” Pence said. “HIP 2.0 is not intended to be a long-term entitlement program. It’s intended to be a safety net that aligns incentives with human aspirations.”

HIP2.0 is an expansion of the traditional Medicaid program available to residents living below 100 percent of the poverty level. The new HIP program expands coverage to those with incomes at 138 percent of the poverty level, which is around $33,000 a year for a family of four. It provides coverage for qualified low-income Hoosiers ages 19 to 64, who are interested in participating in a low-cost, consumer-driven health care program.

Details of the HIP 2.0 were not given, but the program is fully outlined online at www.HIP.IN.gov. Online information says: “The Healthy Indiana Plan provides coverage for qualified low-income Hoosiers ages 19 to 64, who are interested in participating in a low-cost, consumer-driven health care program.” Eligibility guidelines are given online or by calling 1-877-438-4479.

According to Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, “The less than good news is that this is an enormously complicated program which will likely prevent some low-income adults from getting the health care services they need.”

The new HIP program comes with federal funding to pay for nearly all of the cost. The state plans to offset its $1.6 billion share with revenue from the cigarette tax and a hospital assessment fee. The expansion also includes a 25 percent increase in reimbursement for current Medicaid providers to near Medicare rates in an attempt to improve access.