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May 16, 2014

Pence touts new health plan in Southern Indiana

Governor visits Clark Memorial, Kentuckiana Medical Center as he champions HIP 2.0

JEFFERSONVILLE — Gov. Mike Pence visited two Clark County hospitals Friday as he touted a new version of the Healthy Indiana Plan he hopes will expand coverage to more than 400,000 Hoosiers.

Pence delivered a speech at Clark Memorial Hospital in which he championed HIP 2.0, a plan that, if approved by the federal government, would up the number of Hoosiers covered under the Healthy Indiana Plan from about 40,000 to more than 400,000.

“Today, I am pleased to share with you the details of my administration’s proposed waiver to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to offer consumer-driven, private market-based health care coverage to low-income Hoosiers,” Pence said.

Like the Affordable Care Act, which Pence said he opposes, HIP 2.0 would cover Hoosiers at up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which would close a coverage gap that affects about 350,000 Indiana residents.

“This plan is an innovative, fiscally responsible approach to expanding coverage to more than 400,000 Hoosiers, including the more than 300,000 stuck in the coverage gap,” said Martin Padgett, Clark Memorial president and CEO. “This program will give these residents access to the kind of preventive care and proactive disease management that will be required to keep our state healthy.”

Pence contrasted HIP 2.0 with Medicaid expansion, saying that this plan was consumer-driven instead of government-driven. Literature distributed by the administration at the Clark Memorial event included the claim that Indiana is the “first and only state to successfully apply private market-based, consumer-driven reforms to a Medicaid population.”

HIP 2.0 includes three plans in which Hoosiers can participate. HIP Basic would be the default plan for Indiana residents below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and requires co-payments for all services, while the state pays for a $2,500 annual deductible.

HIP Plus would cover Hoosiers with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and would require participants to contribute anywhere from $3 to $25 per month to a “POWER account,” which could then be used to cover other health care costs.  HIP Employer Benefit Link would provide financial support to low-income Hoosiers who wish to participate in their employer-sponsored health care plan through the POWER account.

“We’re one of the least healthy states in the country, and this has the potential to help change that,” said state Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, chairman of the House Public Health Committee, “not only by providing access for people that don’t currently have access, but also by encouraging preventive care and other behaviors that are likely to help improve Indiana’s overall health status.”

Clere said that the implementation of HIP 2.0 will bolster employment opportunities in the health care sector.

“It’s a win all around,” Clere said.

On Friday afternoon, Pence received a tour of Kentuckiana Medical Center, where he took the time to meet staff and answer more questions about his proposal. KMC CEO Michael Phillips said he doesn’t expect the way his facility does business to change with the implementation of HIP 2.0, but does expect some changes that will be felt by consumers.

“It will definitely have an impact of lowering costs across the board for everybody, even for those that are not on the program,” Phillips said.

“Health care providers just like this one are going to be better able to meet the needs of working families in our state,” Pence said.

The Pence administration and the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration will submit a waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to replace traditional Medicaid in Indiana by June 30, Pence said. CMS must grant the waiver for HIP 2.0 to be implemented.

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, called Pence’s plan “better late than never” in a statement issued Thursday.

“When cash-strapped working families decide which bills to pay and how to prioritize them, we need to make sure that health care is an affordable option for everyone,” Lanane said. “Finally, we can say Indiana is, at the very least, on track to join the many other states that have given their residents the full options provided for them within the new health care law.”

To learn more about the HIP 2.0 proposal, visit hip.in.gov.

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ON THE WEB

• Healthy Indiana Plan — hip.in.gov

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Students of Ms. Kitzmiller's first grade class sing and dance in the gymnasium at Grant Line Elementary before heading to their classroom to begin the school year Thursday morning in New Albany.

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