INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is battling with House lawmakers over expanding health care coverage for roughly 400,000 Indiana residents, amid concerns that the state's health care program for the poor won't be able to handle the flood of new enrollees.
Supporters of a House measure that would expand coverage for more than 400,000 low-income residents are concerned the health savings account used as part of the Healthy Indiana Plan could not handle the increase from the 40,000 residents enrolled in the program now. The program, which is operating under a one-year "demonstration period" approved by the federal government, has a waiting list of more than 40,000 residents.
"There are questions around whether that (account) would be a viable feature on the proposed scale," said House Public Health Chairman Ed Clere, R-New Albany.
Clere pulled the bill from consideration Thursday. A top Pence aide said he pulled the bill after finding out in a Republican caucus Wednesday that he did not have the support needed to pass the measure. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because caucus meetings are private.
Pence filed a waiver with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week seeking to use HIP as the vehicle for the Medicaid expansion. His staff lobbied House Republicans heavily this week to ditch their plan and wait for an answer from the federal government.
Another key difference between the Pence approach and the House's: The House bill would force Pence to expand coverage. Even though Pence filed the waiver seeking the Medicaid expansion, his staff says he is waiting until he hears back from the federal government before deciding whether to expand the program.