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3/12/2017 1:18:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Don't undercut Hoosiers' health care

Evansville Courier & Press

Many questions surround the introduction of a Republican health-care plan this week in Congress, and it’s likely to take months to address them all. But one question that members of Indiana’s congressional delegation must insist on getting an answer to promptly and thoroughly is the fate of the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Launched in 2008 and rebooted as HIP 2.0 in 2014, the plan now covers more than 300,000 Hoosiers. It was a hallmark success of both the Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence administration, and has been billed as a possible model for national health-care reform.

Yet, the new Republican plan could substantially reduce Indiana’s ability to help low-income Hoosiers with access to health care.

Under the new proposal, states would receive a capped-amount of federal dollars to spend on Medicaid. That makes sense in trying to bring the bloated federal budget under control, but it also is likely to force states to make difficult choices about who is eligible for coverage as well as what procedures are covered.

Adding to the pressure on the states is a plan to eventually end federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid, one of the core provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Those federal dollars have helped drive the rapid growth of HIP 2.0 in recent years.

Among the questions facing Gov. Eric Holcomb and state lawmakers is how much of the health-care costs for low-income citizens will be shifted to the state. Will Indiana be forced either to pour substantially more money into Medicaid coverage or to raise the bar on eligibility? Will reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals be reduced? If that happens, will providers decide to stop accepting Medicaid patients?

Indiana’s representatives on Capitol Hill — especially Reps. Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon and Jackie Walorski, who serve on key House committees that will review the Republican plan — need to press for clear answers.

Now that Congress and a new president are set to repeal and replace the ACA, it’s essential that we don’t revert to the days when far too many citizens were excluded from the health-care system.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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