The Herald Bulletin

July 28, 2013

Nancy Vaughan: Connecting people to health care

By Nancy Vaughan
For The Herald Bulletin

— The healthcare landscape has never been simple, and all of the discussion surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare, certainly makes it seem even more complex.

To be sure, there are quite a few unanswered questions related to what health insurance options will be available and to what populations; however, come Oct. 1, people who are currently uninsured will have access to insurance options that have to-date been unavailable.

Covering Kids & Families of Indiana (CKF-IN) was founded in 1999 to reduce the number of uninsured children and adults who are eligible for, but not enrolled in, public health care coverage programs. United Way of Madison County is the lead agency for the Madison County CKF Coalition, which is supported by matching dollars from Community Hospital Anderson, St. Vincent Anderson Regional Health Center, St. Vincent Mercy Hospital, and MDWise and MHS managed care organizations.

CKF-Madison County works with these and other community partners to provide education about public health plans and to facilitate enrollment. For the next several months, we will be working diligently to sort out the best way to do this under new regulations and in the expanded marketplace.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is one piece of ACA designed to provide affordable health insurance options. The Marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, and middle and low-income families will get tax credits that cover a portion of the cost of coverage. Indiana residents will be connecting through the Federal Marketplace since we are one of the states that opted out of creating a state system.

The other key piece of ACA’s access provisions is expansion of the Medicaid program to cover more low-income Americans. In Indiana, more than 400,000 people fall into this category.

Indiana has not signed onto this provision; instead, requesting to replace Medicaid expansion with the current Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). HIP has been very successful for some segments of the population, but has not been able to cover most adults without dependents.

In addition, HIP currently does not offer all of the required components of basic coverage under ACA. If HIP is not approved, it will end for all Indiana residents Dec. 31.

The expanded Medicaid/HIP population is currently the biggest dilemma for CKF partners. We know we will need to work hard to reach this population with whatever will be available.

The other struggle is how to allocate human resources to the task of educating and enrolling many more people. Federally Qualified Health Centers, including Madison County Community Health Center, have received funding for some additional enrollment staff.

There are also training and certification requirements at both the state and federal levels. CKF-IN has applied for a federal grant to support training and outreach for the entire state. Partnerships such as CKF, Indiana’s 211 information and referral centers, and United Ways will be vital to successful outreach.

In the meantime, one of the best sources for simple (and entertaining) information I have found is The Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nancy Vaughan is president of United Way of Madison County Inc. She can be reached at n.vaughan@unitedwaymadisonco.org or 608-3061.