News and Tribune


March 4, 2013

HOWEY: Medicaid ideology ... and elusive answers



The problem with HIP is while it serves about 46,000 people, more than that are on a waiting list. The Medicaid expansion roll has been put in the 400,000 range.

While lawmakers talk about future health care costs, there is little acknowledgement that people at or just above the poverty line are turning up in Indiana emergency rooms, at a cost of close to $3 billion annually, a fact most Republicans don’t speak about.

The predominant GOP view comes in the context of taxation levels, as opposed to insuring the lower middle class. But by not opting to expand Medicaid, Indiana could take a pass on billions of dollars we’ve already paid in taxes.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said, “We can’t afford not to do this. It is wildly expensive to keep sending people to the emergency room and it’s reckless not to proceed in a way that is already provided for us by law. There are people against it simply because they don’t like the President.”

Pence views Medicaid as a “broken” system “rife with fraud and waste.” He calls Health Indiana Plan “innovative” and is “good for the fiscal health of the state” even though no one can project the costs.

The cynics suggest that Gov. Pence is making a political decision to position himself for 2016.

The Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Pence may be at the calendar halfway point in the 2013 budget session, but in reality, the need for so much more information — and open, inquisitive minds to go with it — became abjectly evident on Wednesday. 


— The columnist publishes at Find him on Twitter @hwypol

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