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State closes Healthy Indiana Plan enrollment

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Healthy Indiana Plan for the working poor on Thursday stopped enrolling new Hoosiers because the insurance program hit its financial maximum.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services authorized the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to halt enrollment into the existing plan because funding from Indiana’s tobacco tax cannot support additional enrollees.

There are currently more than 52,000 Hoosiers making up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level on the program.

Jim Gavin, spokesman for FSSA, said the cap on the program is an average of 45,000 per month for the calendar year. Several months ago enrollment was as low as 38,000.

"It has ramped up to the point if we don't close off enrollment we will hit the 45,000 monthly average," he said.

In approving the Healthy Indiana Plan waiver renewal last year, the federal government agreed to allow Indiana to adjust eligibility during the year if needed to ensure enrollment would not exceed available revenue.

Should enrollment drop significantly from current numbers, it is possible that FSSA would begin to accept applications again in 2014. If this occurs, information on applying would appear on FSSA’s Healthy Indiana Plan website, www.HIP.IN.gov.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Pence continues to work closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on its proposal to expand the HIP program to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Hoosiers starting in 2015 as an alternative to traditional Medicaid. A formal waiver application outlining the proposal, known as HIP 2.0, was submitted July 3, and discussions have continued since.

Pence will meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell next week in Washington, D.C., about the proposal.

"We remain hopeful for a timely response so that more low-income, uninsured Hoosiers will have the option of participating in the Healthy Indiana Plan," said Joe Moser, Indiana Medicaid director. "Unlike our current program, which has reached its peak capacity, HIP 2.0 would not be solely limited by the revenue from Indiana’s tobacco tax."

nkelly@jg.net

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