If you want to enroll in the state's Healthy Indiana Plan, you're out of luck, at least for now.
The current version of the program has been maxed out, as state officials wait to see if the they'll be allowed to expand the program.
Indiana officials had to stop enrollments to the current version of the plan, which is funded by the state's tobacco tax.
“Continuing to maintain our commitment to fiscal responsibility, we’re going to make sure that program continues to live within its means,” said Gov. Mike Pence.
Meantime, the governor is still seeking a waiver to expand coverage as part of a larger state plan, called HIP 2.0, and he's going to Washington DC next week to negotiate.
But now one state lawmaker is criticizing the governor for not coming up with a plan sooner, or starting a state-based exchange instead.
“It all goes back to the governor’s reluctance and refusal to do what has been done in many other states,” said state senate minority leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.
“I stand by our decision not to establish a state based exchange in Indiana, the fact that a number of states have now begun to unwind is a confirmation of that,” said Pence.
But also this week came dueling court rulings, which in the end, could mean people can't use government subsidies to buy health insurance on the federal exchanges, only the state-run exchanges, which Indiana doesn’t have.
“I hope it causes Congress to rethink Obamacare,” said Pence. “Ordering every American to purchase health insurance whether they want it or need it or not was the wrong idea to begin with.”
“There again, if from the beginning, we had an expansion of current Medicaid system if we had set up our own state exchanges as other states have done successfully, we wouldn’t have to worry about that issue, would we?” said Lanane.
“We’re continuing very good faith discussions with federal officials,” said Pence. “The current plan, I’m glad we were able to renew last year but obviously the need is much greater.”
“If we had just put a plan into place sooner, we could have avoided these restrictions which now block the already limited number of HIP enrollees from the important health care access they need,” said Lanane in a statement earlier this week. “I appreciate the governor’s recent commitment to working with the federal government on his new proposal, but once again, his indecision on how to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act has left too many Hoosiers behind.”
Gov. Mike Pence submitted paperwork to the federal government earlier this month to request a waiver allowing for the expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan – but even the governor admits there’s no way of knowing how long the process could take.
The governor wants to cover up to 350,000 uninsured Hoosiers, but it would take federal Medicaid money and approval from Washington, with local hospitals also helping out.
So how long could it take for the expanded plan to become a reality?
Our intention will be to roll it out as soon as calendar year 2015 as is responsible,” said Pence earlier this month. “Frankly it’s very difficult for us to estimate how long that deliberation by federal officials and how long our negotiations might take.”
And as for the negotiations, Pence said there were some items on which the state wasn’t very willing to budge.
“We’ve made this very clear to federal officials, that any attempt by the federal government to eliminate or water down the consumer driven elements of this plan would cause the state of Indiana to reconsider,” said Pence earlier this month. “This is not intended to be an entitlement, this is really intended to be a hand up not a hand out.”
While there’s no specific timetable for the federal government to respond, the governor says he’s hoping his plan will eventually get approved.