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Pence makes a point; Hoosier health suffers

As a former public school teacher of those with disabilities, a father of a multi-disabled son and a leader of a parent/guardian coalition for those with disabilities, I view FSSA Secretary Debra F. Minott’s piece (“Those who like HIP should be able to keep HIP,” Dec. 23) as simply politically motivated.

Her support of Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to deny expansion of Medicaid to adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level is allegedly because of the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Minott states there will be a possible 20,000 low-income Hoosiers (a stretch) eligible for coverage in 2014. HIP has about 31,000 enrollees.

The independent research of the Kaiser Family Foundation asserts there will be 182,000 non-elderly poor, uninsured adults in the coverage gap in Indiana during 2014. The healthcare.gov website estimates the total could be as high as 262,000.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has been adopted by Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio – with Michigan agreeing to the expansion in April 2014.

So, with little doubt, Pence was delighted to have the leader of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration – which serves the elderly, the disabled and the needy of our state – support Indiana’s feeble effort to assist the poor and needy with health coverage.

But this is all political. Pence dislikes the president’s comprehensive health plan. This means, on account of his political stance, each citizen with good health insurance will continue to pay needlessly for the uninsured who utilize emergency room and hospital services to the tune of $700 to $1,000 annually. At the same time the uninsured will receive inadequate regular health care thanks to political prejudice.

This is a sad commentary on our state’s lack of concern for the poor and needy individuals. All the while, Minott, who has a state salary of $137,500 with generous benefits, has stabilized her political appointment as secretary of the FSSA by expressing her supportive opinion of HIP compared to the Affordable Care Act.

According to the state treasurer’s report as of June 30, 2011, $212,328,599.59 was reverted by FSSA to the state’s general fund. Over the past three fiscal years more than $460 million of FSSA appropriations have gone into the state’s coffers.

This has been done by FSSA at the critical expense of Indiana’s needy seniors, the poor and those with serious disabilities.

How can we bring Pope Francis’ heart and compassionate spirit to Indiana’s political leadership? Representation for Indiana’s needy individuals who are unable to advocate for themselves is urgently needed.

Marvin O. Ross is a Fort Wayne resident. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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