Indiana News

State Faces Time Crunch for Possible Medicaid Expansion

Pence, Dems point fingers at DC bureaucracy, late date for state hearing

3/14/2013

 

Democratic legislative leaders are raising the prospect of a special session to authorize an expansion of Medicaid.

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Legislators in both parties have recommended expanding Medicaid eligibility under the federal health care law, though Republicans have joined GOP Governor Mike Pence in saying expansion is only an option within the framework of the state's Healthy Indiana Plan insurance program. The state needs federal approval to extend HIP, and has scheduled required public hearings next week on its request.

Last month, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services advised the state it can't take any action on the request until at least 30 days after those hearings are held, to allow for public comment. That's just a week before the General Assembly must adjourn for the year. In a letter to Pence, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) say they're concerned the state might have to either hold a special session or put off any Medicaid expansion for an extra year.

The Senate has already passed a bill conditioning Medicaid expansion on federal waiver approval. In a response to Lanane and Pelath, Pence notes then-Governor Mitch Daniels first sought renewal of HIP two years ago. The state received a one-year extension but is now seeking a longer-term approval, and Pence says he won't speculate on the legislative or administrative steps required to implement a Medicaid expansion until he gets a yes or no from the Department of Health and Human Services. He says the lengthy timeline is the result not of the state's hearing dates, but a "flawed bureaucratic process" in Washington.

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