Governor Mike Pence Accepts Obamacare Expansion in Indiana
NEWS – Busy week last week for Governor Mike Pence with his leaked announcement of a state-run news agency called JustIN and the federal government approving his HIP 2.0 modification to our state’s Medicaid insurance program. As we’ve written before on Muncie Voice, our governor is full of contradictions. The large newspaper chains hammered him hard enough about his Pravda on the Prairie that he cancelled the website within the same week it was leaked. He’s also claiming HIP 2.0 as a victory for conservatism while spending the last four years calling Obamacare a disaster.
We’d like to say we’ve enjoyed watching all this nonsense unfold, but we’d be lying to you. Hoosiers rank poorly in all health and wellness statistics, and are grossly under-insured. Public health advocates hammered Pence for not expanding Medicaid in our state when he took office. Hospital lobbyists were begging Pence to do something and even offered to fund the expansion of HIP. It was told that Hoosier hospitals were losing $2 billion in revenues per year for not expanding health care to residents, and the state lost out on thousands of new high paying healthcare jobs.
From the hospital lobbyists alone, the resulting cost of Pence’s Tea Party ideological beliefs are close to $4 billion, and that doesn’t consider lost lives due to non-treatment of preventable diseases. How do you place a value on the life of a Hoosier?
Our corporate controlled press in this state has published very little about the state of our poor health, not wanting to embarrass Governor Pence and the republican super majority.
Since elected, Pence has accepted a few resignations from his appointments to FSSA, or his health and human services department, and the architect of HIP 2.0 begged Pence not to expand the program from the 45,000 current enrollees, to a HIP 2.0 program covering closer to 650,000 Hoosiers. He said HIP was not designed to handle such a large population. We’ll find out soon if he’s correct since enrollment begins immediately.
The governor wants this to be a major victory for conservatism, but he’s accepting federal Medicaid dollars which will fund 100% of the programs cost. Also, Pence is one of the loudest balkers of Barack Obama’s personal mandate, ruled a tax by SCOTUS. Pence is forcing the poorest Hoosiers to pay into a health savings account for decent benefits or risk losing benefits and falling into a pool of Hoosiers receiving a standard high risk policy which will do nothing for preventive care which reduces the long-term health care cost of preventable diseases. If we catch issues early, we can spare the individual and society a huge cost later.
Pence does want Hoosiers to know it’s not costing us anything. Once the federal contribution declines to 90%, Pence has increased the taxes on cigarettes and hospital groups will kickback money to defray the costs. According to Indiana Public Radio:
“HIP 2.0 will be funded by a combination of federal funds and an agreement with Indiana’s hospitals who have partnered with us to improve access to health care coverage here in Indiana,” Pence said. “This means HIP 2.0 will require no new state spending and no new taxes. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay for states to expand Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government promised to pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years and then reduce its contribution to 90 percent by 2022. The same will be true for HIP 2.0, but the remaining 10 percent will be covered through Indiana’s hospitals and revenue from the state’s cigarette tax.”
The Tea Party Libertarians see this as an intrusion of the federal government and want to abolish or repeal the Affordable Care Act, canceling health policies for the nearly 10 million Americans who are now insured and receiving badly needed health treatment.
The main stream republicans and democrats believe that with Pence accepting the federal expansion of healthcare, the remaining republican holdouts will fold and accept the roll-out as well. While some still believe it’s popular to deny Americans health care insurance, it’s working for too many people. Toss in real losses for hospitals and taxpayers by not expanding health insurance, and practical dollars and cents are winning over ideology.
Many of the same Libertarians have found out the hard way their ideology can be costly – like spending $1 million on drug testing welfare recipients to save around $100,000. Not sure about you, but my old HP-12c calculator reveals a negative return on investment, so better scrap that plan if your belief is really centered on saving the government money.
We’re afraid as this plan becomes implemented over the remaining year, Pence’s Medicaid reforms may prove costly to Hoosiers. The administration of half a million small dollar POWER health savings accounts for nearly $2 to $5 a month might prove burdensome. The point of health savings accounts was to make Hoosiers put skin in the game. Hoosiers have put skin in this game for decades thanks to the lowest wage growth of all 50 states.
In effect, the state has refused to give us a raise for decades while health premiums have enjoyed double-digit growth. Less income and higher expenses equals a growing rate of impoverished – some of the highest in the country according to the United Ways ALICE reports.
As a result of the above, Governor Pence might get credit for proposing a health savings account to existing Medicaid recipients, but he wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t funded by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act which extended health insurance to all 50 states to help Hoosiers and Americans suffering under an economic system which serves a few while confining the working class to a mere existence of having to choose what they can afford – e.g., a house, car, college, health, etc.
Since 2010, we’ve heard nothing but negativity from Mike Pence about Obamacare, but today, he proudly stands behind a podium accepting federal dollars and claiming it a victory for himself, or “Hoosier Conservatism”. Here’s a closing remark from his newly appointed secretary of FSSA:
In short, the doors are open and HIP 2.0 is ready to do business. Coverage begins Feb. 1. I urge every Hoosier struggling with making ends meet and living with the worry of not having health care coverage to visit www.HIP.IN.gov or call 1-877-GET-HIP-9 today. We’re ready to help.
John J. Wernert, MD
Secretary, Family and Social Services Administration