Indiana Democrats want Pence’s health care program defended

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Statehouse Democrats want Indiana’s congressional delegation to defend former Gov. Mike Pence’s expansion of the state’s Medicaid program from proposed GOP cuts backed by President Donald Trump.

A proposal in Congress to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law would lead to Medicaid cuts estimated at $880 billion through 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Indiana House Democrats warn that could have “dire” results in Indiana.

The current vice president’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 expanded Medicaid in 2015 with increased funding made available under the Affordable Care Act.

The program relies on the federal government for at least 90 percent of its funding and covers more than 400,000 poor people in Indiana.

In a letter sent to the delegation, House Democrats voice concern for those who receive health insurance through Pence’s Indiana program, roughly six percent of state residents.

“We have met few Hoosiers who want to lose their health care coverage, see Medicare slashed, endure health care job losses or see family members suffer needlessly,” they wrote.

Indiana was one of 31 states to take advantage of the available funding and expand state Medicaid programs. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other Republicans are asking Congress to spare Medicaid funding as they overhaul the health care law.

“I want to make sure that we’re compassionate and cover the Hoosiers that we are right now,” Holcomb said earlier this week. “I completely believe we need to fix the Affordable Care Act and (House Republican’s) repeal was the right first step. But the devil is always in the details.”

According to the congressional nonpartisan analysis, 14 million Americans would lose coverage next year under the proposal. Even before the analysis was released, GOP legislative leaders warned of potential coverage losses in Indiana.

The state needs to be prepared to mitigate damages and reduce the pain caused if the bill passes, House Democratic leader Scott Pelath said.

His caucus’ letter calls for “serious answers” on how HIP coverage and overall health care policy could be affected, urging the delegation to consult a bipartisan group of Indiana lawmakers.

“We would hope that Vice President Pence, not long removed from our state, would be the first person in Washington D.C. to understand the serious implications that could threaten this landmark of our state’s health care policy,” they wrote. “Regardless, we know that every official from our state has an ability to do the right thing by our citizens.”

 

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