By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — State Rep. Ed Clere, a New Albany Republican, said Wednesday night that his party has become a stumbling block to extending health care for low-income Hoosiers.
"It's my party that needs to be convinced, to put it bluntly," Clere told a small crowd during a town hall meeting to discuss the Affordable Care Act. "But there are some that are starting to come around."
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on "Obamacare" last year, justices approved the health-care mandate but said the federal government couldn’t force states to expand their Medicaid coverage. Indiana has decided not to expand its coverage.
“A lack of expansion will leave few or no options for people who are above 100 percent of federal poverty,” Clere said. “Lots of legislators are interested in continuing the discussion for an expansion that makes sense for Indiana.”
Clere asked all citizens to talk with their legislators about Medicaid expansion in Indiana.
"There’s a place for discussion and even disagreement on how to do this,” Clere said. “There are a large range of options for doing it.”
The Wednesday night town hall meeting was organized by the Minority Health Commission of Madison County. State Rep. Terri Austin and state Sen. Tim Lanane, both Anderson Democrats, joined Clere on a panel that responded to questions.
Other panelists included Paul Chase of Covering Kids and Families, marketplace navigator Debra Hester and Mandy Bratton of MDwise, one of the four insurance providers in the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Indiana.
The other ACA health insurance providers in Indiana are Anthem, Physicians Health Plan and Ambetter.
Lanane, the Senate minority leader, agreed that Medicaid expansion is essential in Indiana to ensure access to health care for more low-income Hoosiers.
Some who attended Wednesday's town hall meeting had questions about signing up for federally sponsored health-care plans.
“You can’t just look at the cost of plans,” Chase said. “You have to make sure the doctors or hospitals near you accept your coverage.”
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call him at 640-4847.
Navigators Angie Pitts, Penny Jachim, Mike Casuscelli and LaBrenda Hardy have completed the course studies, background checks and testing in order to be approved Certified Indiana State Navigators for the Madison County Community Health Centers.