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Gov., Law Makers and Medical Experts Don’t Agree on Obamacare

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Governor Mike Pence is against expanding Medicaid to help cover some 400,000 uninsured Hoosiers. He is banking on federal government approval of the expansion of the already existing Healthy Indiana Plan, known as HIP. Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany), chair of the Public Health Committee, has amended Senate Bill 551 to require the Pence Administration to negotiate with the federal government, not just leave it as an option.
Clere said some worry the federal government will back out of paying.
"If federal participation ever drops below the levels that have been promised, then our program would terminate, and per this language," he said. "That would have to be a pre-condition."
Clere's amendment and the bill passed the committee with bipartisan support. SB 551 now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Dr. Rob Stone, the medical director of palliative care at IU Health Hospital, Bloomington, said the problem now is that uninsured people are using the emergency room as their doctor.
"When they get a chest pain, they don't go right away - it's more when the heart attack is fully blown. And of course, you can't get mammograms and pap smears and diabetes care in the emergency room - that just won't work. These people need real health care," he said.
Stone said expanding Medicaid is the easiest and fastest way for the state to expand health care.
At this point, HIP covers about 40,000 in the state, Stone said. It does not provide care for pregnancy and limits coverage for childless adults. Politicians need to stop fighting, expand Medicaid now and then work on improvements to HIP down the road, he added.
"We've really just gotta go with what's on the table right now, and then try to improve it as we go on. But we need to get 400,000 people covered in January. We just can't let that go by," he said.
Studies on the cost of expanding Medicaid differ. One done for the state suggests $2 billion through 2020, while another by the Indiana Hospital Association estimates $503 million.
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