Indiana Gov. Pence Expanding Medicaid

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Friday, 16 May 2014 12:08 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has joined a growing list of Republican governors using Obamacare as a way to expand Medicaid.

Pence announced Thursday a blueprint of conservative reforms to extend health coverage to a larger share of low-income residents, some of which already have been adopted by other red states, Politico reports.

Pence said his proposal was "the kind of health reform that puts working Hoosiers in the driver's seat," according to Politico.

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The plan outlines a number of specific proposals including:
  • placing enrollees in private insurance instead of traditional Medicaid;
  • requiring some participants to pay modest premiums;
  • conditioning enrollment for some on paying into a health savings account;
  • encouraging unemployed or underemployed beneficiaries to pursue work;
  • attempting to limit overuse of emergency rooms.
Pence's office appeared to want to avoid allowing the move to be billed a victory for Obamacare, instead couching it as an extension of an existing state program.

The Obama administration, nevertheless, welcomed the move as a victory for the new healthcare law.

"We are encouraged by Indiana and Gov. Pence's commitment to helping cover more of the state's uninsured population through the Healthy Indiana program and look forward to seeing his proposal," Emma Sandoe, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Politico. "In Indiana, it would mean coverage for thousands of additional Hoosiers."

The proposal will face a 30-day state review before a final review by CMS. If approved, it would release billions of dollars from the Affordable Care Act to the state to help cover an additional 350,000 low-income residents, Politico reported.

Twenty-six states have already extended Medicaid coverage under Obamacare, and Pence would become the eighth Republican governor to expand his state's Medicaid program. Until 2016, the government will pay the full cost of expansion, with support to states tapering off to 90 percent in subsequent years, Politico reported.

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