The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Editorials

June 11, 2014

Editorial: Pence's health care coverage reform walks moderate walk

This is encouraging.

Our governor, Mike Pence, has stepped away from the conservative dogma that generally limits him, to make meaningful, practical reform in the state's health-care plan for Hoosiers.

Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, introduced a couple of weeks ago by Pence, would bring coverage to 350,000 currently uncovered Hoosiers by coming into compliance with the demands of Medicaid and the federal Affordable Care Act.

Now in a public comment period, the plan will be sent to the feds at the end of the month for approval.

While Pence still can't quite escape the ultra-conservative strictures of his political platform -- he claims HIP 2.0 does not bow to Obamacare and refers to it as Medicaid "reform" -- his plan shows that he and his administration are actually thinking about doing what's right for Indiana's poor.

Twenty-six other states and the District of Columbia are expanding Medicaid under a Supreme Court ruling from two years ago that made such expansion optional.

The federal government would pay the full cost of HIP 2.0's expansion of medical care benefits through 2016. Afterward, the feds would shed 10 percent of the burden by 2020.

State money to support HIP 2.0 would come from the cigarette sales tax and a hospital assessment charge.

Pence's plan would offer HIP 2.0 to Hoosiers living at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That's about $33,000 or less annual income for a family of four. Those enrolling in the plan would be required to make contributions, but not much: $3-$25 a month.

HIP 2.0 participants above the poverty level who fail to make payments would risk losing coverage for as much as six months. Poverty-stricken HIP 2.0 participants who do not make monthly payments would have fewer benefits and co-pays.

Many, including this newspaper, have accused Pence in the past of adhering so strictly to his small-government principals that Hoosiers are denied federal benefits. Back when he was an Indiana congressman, for example, Pence refused to pursue "pork" projects that could have earmarked millions of dollars in federal funds for the Hoosier state.

But Pence's HIP 2.0 plan shows that he is coming around to a more practical point of view when it comes to using federal money for the benefit of Hoosiers.

While he may still be talking the ultra-coservative talk, HIP 2.0 suggests that Pence is now ready to walk the moderate walk to benefit the people of the state he is entrusted to govern.

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