Federal government grants extension for Healthy Indiana Plan

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has negotiated a deal to keep the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) going through the end of next year.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter to the state saying that the plan had been granted a one-year extension through Dec. 31, 2014. The income level for eligibility was also lowered and other special conditions are attached.

The Healthy Indiana Plan began in 2008 under a five-year waiver from the federal government and was touted as the first consumer-driven health care plan. Since the Affordable Health Care Act was passed, Indiana has tried to keep HIP going through a series of discussions and waiver requests.

Gov. Mike Pence called the decision a “victory” for Hoosiers, saying the waiver puts Indiana at the “forefront of consumer-driven health care in the United States.”

Pence has been a critic of the traditional Medicaid program at the center of the Affordable Health Care Act and believes full expansion would be too costly for the state.

Opponents said the decision was a temporary solution that would end up denying thousands of Hoosiers affordable health care.

“While I am pleased that we have temporarily settled the health care fears of Hoosiers covered under the Healthy Indiana Plan, we have not solved the problems that face more than 400,000 Hoosiers who still have no answer to their health care concerns apart from visits to their local emergency rooms,” said Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath.

State Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane said the deal accomplished “nothing more than achieving the minimum.”

The Indiana Hospital Association said it was “pleased” to hear about HIP’s extension. The group called the program a success and support it being used as the model to expand coverage to uninsured Hoosiers across the state.