Indiana News

State Faces Federal Health Care Decisions This Year

Law doesn't take full effect till 2014, but states must set parameters soon

3/5/2012

The federal health care law won't take full effect until 2014 -- but Indiana has some decisions to make in the next few months.

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Indiana needs federal permission to continue the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state health package for the uninsured, beyond this year. The Family and Social Services Administration has asked for the maximum three-year extension.

Seema Verma, the agency's point woman on health-care reform issues, says the government has offered no hints of how it will rule. She says the state needs a green light by this summer, because it'll take time to dismantle the program if the answer is no.

States also face a September deadline to set the minimum benefit package for insurance plans under the new law. The law sets a national floor of 10 must-cover areas, from pediatric care to ambulance service, but states must select one of several existing options as their minimum benefit level.

In October, Indiana must decide whether to participate in the system of state health exchanges for the uninsured. Verma says the state has done some preliminary work in assessing the administrative needs for the program, but hasn't begun putting anything in place because the federal government has yet to lay out its model of what it expects.

And Verma notes all the work on those issues could be for nothing if the Supreme Court declares the health care law unconstitutional. The court is hearing arguments this month, with a ruling expected in June.

Verma briefed the 23 members of the House Insurance and Public Health Committees on how Indiana is preparing for the transition.

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