Monday, August 21st, 2017

Governor to be ‘part of solution’ on health care

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2017

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he is willing to consider raising taxes to continue a state health insurance program for the working poor. Federal funding for Indiana’s HIP 2.0 program covering more than 400,000 Hoosiers is on the chopping block in the current health care debate. But Holcomb has been scant with details on how Indiana might continue the program if funding is cut.

When asked directly whether he would raise taxes, he said “I’m willing to entertain all sorts of decisions that will be difficult to make that will make sure that we’re able to continue taking care of Hoosiers in need.

“I want to be part of the solution.”

Other options include trimming services provided by HIP 2.0; reducing eligibility; and finding money elsewhere in the state budget. He has repeatedly said he wants the federal government to give states more flexibility under Medicaid and that flexibility could lead to cost-savings.

“If anything has changed, it’s my growing impatience that we’re not getting to a resolution,” Holcomb said. “Clarity sooner rather than later would be helpful.”

One move Holcomb and Indiana lawmakers could consider is an increase in the cigarette tax. It was considered last session, but state officials wanted to hold off seeing what the federal government does concerning Medicaid and what funding might be necessary.

Indiana would lose $4.9 billion in funding for the poor, disabled and elderly on Medicaid under one of several health care bills that Congress has considered. That is a 14 percent drop from what the state would receive under current law from 2020 to 2026. A separate analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation pegs that loss at $21 billion for the state.