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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Gov. Mike Pence poses for a selfie with Cheryl Bartnick at the Primetime Center on Thursday in Fort Wayne. Pence attended the Women of Bold Empowerment luncheon at the youth center to talk about the plan to cover uninsured Hoosiers.

Governor receives plaudits in city visit

Reaction to proposal largely upbeat after speech at luncheon

– Feedback was generally positive Thursday following Gov. Mike Pence's announcement of a new health care plan to cover Hoosiers left without options now.

And many people lauded the fact that the plan doesn't expand traditional Medicaid. Instead, the proposal requires participants to contribute financially and make better health care choices.

“I am pleased to see Indiana leading the way in proposing a consumer-driven plan to expand health coverage options for the uninsured. The expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan outlined by the governor today stands in stark contrast to the broken Medicaid program that for years has been plagued by ineffective cost controls, poor management and fraud,” said Fort Wayne Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long.

“Indiana's HIP 2.0 plan has the potential to expand health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers in a way that promotes personal responsibility and doesn't require a tax increase. This can be a national, state-driven model that shows how to work with the private sector and our current health care system to affordably and effectively provide health care to the uninsured in our country.”

Pence discussed HIP 2.0 when he spoke Thursday afternoon to the Women of Bold Empowerment luncheon at Youth for Christ's Primetime Community Center in Fort Wayne.

Liz Brown, the Republican candidate for state Senate District 15, was in the audience. After the program, she said she supports health-savings accounts such as those contained in HIP.

“I think it's great that the plan that (Pence) described gives Hoosiers control over the decisions affecting their health,” Brown said in an interview.

Chip Clark, ministry coordinator at Primetime Community Center, said he is undecided about HIP 2.0. He said he believes in giving people more control over their health care options but doesn't want anybody to lose access to care.

Clark said some people are “not ready to be in a position where they can begin to empower themselves through this opportunity.”

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, has worked on the issue in recent years and said “it's a creative approach and if it gets the job done I'm all for it.”

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would still have to approve a waiver for the program.

A statement from the agency said it is encouraged by Pence's commitment to helping cover more of the state's uninsured population.

“Just like we worked with Arkansas and other states on a unique plan, we look forward to doing the same with Indiana once they submit a formal proposal,” the statement said.

Brian Tabor, vice president of government relations for the Indiana Hospital Association, called the movement forward “monumental.”

The state's hospitals have agreed to help cover the state share of the program through an increase in the hospital assessment fee. That money would be used to draw down federal dollars, which are then funneled back into the health care system for care.

The only one to be critical of the plan was Democratic U.S. Congressman Andre Carson, who questioned the untested proposal.

He said Indiana could have followed its neighboring states in expanding Medicaid but chose not to.

“We could have made that choice, and more than 400,000 low-income Hoosiers would have had access to health care by now. Instead, we continue to try to reinvent the wheel. As someone who believes we have a duty to provide access to health care services to all Hoosiers regardless of their ability to pay, this is a frustrating situation.”

DaVita Mitchell, a community volunteer and member of the Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast board of trustees, said after the Women of Bold Empowerment luncheon that she likes the HIP expansion proposal because “it gives more incentives for (participants) to be subsidizing themselves and not leaning on the government so much.”

nkelly@jg.net

bfrancisco@jg.net

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