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October 6, 2013

HAYDEN: Working poor in health care dilemma

Clere attending town hall meetings across state

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

About 300,000 Hoosiers, like this young man, who could have enrolled in Medicaid through the new health exchange, won’t be eligible for health insurance coverage because of that decision. 

About 500,000 more Hoosiers who are uninsured will be, but they’re having to figure that out pretty much on their own. Indiana has opted out of running its own exchange, letting the federal government do the work — and take the heat if things go badly. As a result, Indiana has received very little money to hire staff to help the uninsured navigate their way through the insurance exchange. 

You can go to the Indiana Department of Insurance website to find a list of people, called “navigators,” who are the only ones legally allowed to help people sign up for coverage. But you’ll see scores of communities in Indiana with no navigators. It’s not easy to become one and Indiana has tacked on more requirements to qualify, above and beyond what the federal government calls for. 

During the 2013 session, as his fellow Republicans in the Statehouse were working diligently to undermine the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Clere spent his time trying to negotiate a path under the federal law that would ensure that the uninsured working poor in Indiana would gain access to health care. He sought to amend a Senate bill, for example, with language that would require the governor to negotiate a reasonable Medicaid expansion. 

At Monday’s town hall meeting, Clere was struck by the irony of the events unfolding that evening. “It shows the divide between the political elite and the people who most need access to insurance,” he said afterwards. “People want solutions, not pointless partisanship. There are plenty of reasons to question the design and sustainability of the ACA. But those are debates for another day.” 

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com 

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