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Pence set to unveil insurance plan

In city Thursday to discuss Healthy Indiana expansion

– Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday will unveil the state's proposal to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan as an alternative to Medicaid to cover uninsured Hoosiers.

The administration did not release details Tuesday, but sources said the plan hasn't been approved and isn't ready for implementation. He will make the announcement in the morning in Indianapolis and then offer remarks in Fort Wayne at a noon luncheon.

Late last year, Indiana received a one-year extension of its consumer-driven health insurance program for the working poor.

At that time, the extension meant that almost 37,000 Hoosiers on the Healthy Indiana Plan did not lose insurance Jan. 1.

But Pence continues to press the federal government to allow him to use the Healthy Indiana Plan as the vehicle to expand insurance to more uninsured, rather than using the traditional Medicaid program.

The Healthy Indiana Plan, funded by a mix of state cigarette taxes and federal money, covers some Hoosiers who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy insurance on the open market.

It also requires those participating to share in the cost of the program. That cost-sharing has posed a problem for the federal government because Medicaid does not require those covered to participate financially.

At the time of the extension, several changes were made to the program, including shifting almost 11,000 Hoosiers from the state program to new federal health care exchange subsidies.

The income eligibility threshold was dropped significantly, from up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 100 percent.

This means a family of four making $23,550 is eligible for the Healthy Indiana Plan; their previous maximum was $47,100.

The reason for the change was that many people with incomes over the poverty level are now eligible for subsidized insurance on an exchange.

While the extension maintains coverage for Healthy Indiana Plan participants, the Pence administration has refused to expand its Medicaid program to cover up to 400,000 more Hoosiers. Instead, it wants to use the Healthy Indiana Plan for such an expansion.

For people newly eligible for Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act provides 100 percent federal funding for three years and never falls below 90 percent federal funding.