Health expert tapped to run Ind. budget panel

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 12:22 am •  Published: November 13, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's House Republicans picked their lead health care expert to lead the powerful Ways and Means committee Tuesday, an acknowledgment that health care costs will play a key role in shaping of Indiana's next biennial budget.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma picked Public Health Chairman Tim Brown to take control of the panel following the departure of longtime budget guru and former chairman Jeff Espich.

Brown, a Crawfordsville physician, will work with a team of Republicans including committee Vice Chair Suzanne Crouch to balance health-care spending with education funding.

"When you look at federal funds and state funds we spend more on those social services than we do on K-12, so it's a big part," Brown said.

Brown's pick comes as a Friday deadline looms for Indiana and other states to tell the federal government how it will provide access to insurance under the rules set forth in the federal health care law. President Barack Obama's re-election last week, in conjunction with a Supreme Court last summer, deflated most opposition to the law.

Gov.-elect Mike Pence has said he opposes running a state health insurance exchange and opposes expanding Medicaid coverage, preferring instead to expand the state's health savings account plan. In both cases he has said the proposals would cost the state too much money. Bosma said he plans to meet with Pence Wednesday to discuss that and other topics.

Lawmakers head into 2013 session with roughly $2 billion in cash reserves, a proposal from Pence to cut the state's personal income tax by 10 percent and pent up demand for services cut during the recession. They are also set to receive the results of an independent audit into $526 million in tax collection errors and new budget forecasts sometime next month.

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