We love to argue. That’s why we’re known as editorial writers.
But in our view, it’s time to stop arguing about the relative merits of the federal plan to extend medical care to a large group of needy Hoosiers and the new state alternative.
Obamacare allows the federal government to fund expansion of Medicaid to cover those whose earnings are too great to qualify for existing Medicaid and too little to qualify for tax credits for medical coverage. Indiana’s Mike Pence, an ardent foe of Obamacare, was among the many Republican governors who refused to accept that expansion for their state.
The impasse has left hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers without medical coverage.
In May, Pence unveiled Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, which would expand the state’s limited medical coverage system and use the funds that would have gone to increasing Medicaid coverage to offer medical plans to everyone who falls into the gap. The plan has some very cool innovative aspects, such as using funds from the state’s hospital assessment and the tobacco tax to ensure that state spending won’t increase.
The sticking point could be that HIP 2.0 asks participants to contribute a small monthly fee toward full coverage. The state plan’s backers offer evidence that this makes those covered more responsible about living a healthy lifestyle and not abusing their care benefits. But it’s a requirement not provided for in the federal plan.
Tuesday, Indiana asked the new U.S. Health and Human Services head, Sylvia Burwell, to approve HIP 2.0.
Now, anybody who’s followed the health care debate in Washington – or any debate in Washington – knows that Burwell and Pence could fight over Indiana’s variant of the federal plan until the cows not only come home but take over the farm. Pence is even getting some flak from far-right purists who think he’s trying to sneak a socialist scheme in consumer-driven health care clothing past them.
At best, it will be another six months before HIP could be massively expanded into a working HIP 2.0. Meanwhile, there are Hoosiers waiting for coverage. It’s time to forego the usual who-started-its and what-about-this-sentence concerns. The feds should OK Pence’s plan without delay.