Indiana seeks new waiver program for eligible Medicaid users

Indiana plans to seek federal approval to begin offering low- and moderate-income people using the Healthy Indiana Plan up to $1,000 over 12 months as they switch to employer insurance or other health care coverage.

Posted: May 20, 2019 1:48 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana plans to seek federal approval to begin offering low- and moderate-income people using the Healthy Indiana Plan up to $1,000 over 12 months as they switch to employer insurance or other health care coverage.

The HIP Workforce Bridge program would allow people to continue to spend the funds from their HIP health savings accounts as they transition. The Healthy Indiana Plan is funded through former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

The money would help people pay for premiums, deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance for one year, regardless of whether they get insurance through a company or pay for it on the insurance exchange.

The state's Family and Social Services Administration made the announcement Wednesday.

"When you take a step forward in your career, you should also continue to take steps to be healthy," Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "We want Hoosiers to pursue meaningful employment while continuing to see their doctor, take their medicines and maintain their overall health."

Administration analysts estimate the program could help around 27,000 people per year.

Indiana currently requires some people on Medicaid to either have a job, volunteer or care for a young child or disabled adult to obtain the health care benefits. But the cost of transitioning from HIP to other health care coverage can be a deterrent to seeking employment.

"Many of us know from experience that even when someone gets a new job, there can still be a period of time when health care costs are a concern," FSSA Secretary Jennifer Walthall said. "With HIP Workforce Bridge, we will help fellow Hoosiers move into an exciting and rewarding next phase of their lives without adding the stress of health coverage uncertainty."

To launch HIP Workforce Bridge, FSSA has recommended a change to the federal waiver that permits the HIP program. The proposal aligns with the full implementation of Indiana's Gateway to Work initiative in 2020.

The cost of the program would be $25.9 million a year, according to estimates by Milliman Inc. The state plans to tap unutilized money from HIP POWER accounts to help subsidize the program.

The waiver request also extends an exemption to the work mandate for caretakers with dependent children younger than 13. The novel proposal would have only exempted guardians with dependent children younger than 7.

This month, the FSSA will hold two community hearings on the proposal. If approved, the program will launch in 2020.

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