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March 31, 2015 • Headlines

Governor Pence, center, visited Batesville Tool and Die recently to tour the facility. The plant hosts co-op students from Batesville High School and Ivy Tech Community College.
Batesville Tool and Die employee Clarence Shupe and son Tyler both met Gov. Pence, Thursday when he toured the facility. Shupe is one of the BHS/Ivy Tech co-op students who mentors at the plant.
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Governor visits county to push state’s revised HIP care plan

Mary Mattingly

Governor Mike Pence visited Ripley County Thursday to promote the state’s new Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and encourage the medical community and other county officials to spread the word. Pence arrived at Margaret Mary Health a little late from the noon schedule, after signing a public health emergency declaration in Scott County and the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Joe Moser, Indiana director of Medicaid, filled in with a presentation on details of the new plan. There were about 70 guests at the event that filled the room to capacity at Batesville hospital’s auditorium Thursday afternoon.

Governor Pence at Margaret Mary Health


Governor Mike Pence talks about HIP 2.0 at a meeting at Margaret Mary Health Thursday. Many doctors attended, such as county health officer Dr. David Welsh at right.

The revised HIP program will provide access to health insurance to all low-income Hoosiers who are currently not eligible for insurance on the Obamacare marketplace.

On the new HIP plan, Pence said to the audience, “As we roll this out and it becomes the most significant Medicaid reform in America, I hope you feel the responsibility, as I do, that we really have an opportunity to be a model for the nation in Indiana.” Indiana is the only state to apply market-based reforms to a Medicaid population.

Background on HIP
In 2013, Affordable Care Act offered states incentives to expand traditional Medicaid coverage to those with incomes 138 percent and below of the federal poverty level. (It would be an income of about $2,743 a month for a family of four). Many states, including Indiana, opted to not expand Medicaid coverage, despite the federal government funding it 100 percent the first year. However, the state won approval from the Obama administration to expand its own brand of Medicaid in late January. Pence told the crowd Thursday about how he met Obama on the tarmac for 15 minutes at the Evansville airport a year ago to push for a waiver for Indiana’s health care program. The federal government gave him the go-ahead Jan. 26.

Consumer-driven model
A main component of the revised HIP 2.0 plan is it injects personal responsibility for the poor. The aim was to fill the insurance gap for about 350,000 low-income Hoosiers, the group that does not qualify for Obamacare marketplace subsidies. Pence touted the fact that enrollment began the day it was announced and coverage started Feb. 1, while other states have delayed it. Indiana refused state based exchange and traditional Medicaid, saying it is broken. He said, “We’ve seen hundreds of healthcare providers now sign up for HIP 2.0, a testament that they weren’t wanting to fool with Medicaid and that was affecting access.” But, he wanted to expand it using the principles of personal responsibility, calling it a consumer driven model. He said, “You get someone to take greater ownership and their health care gets better and costs invariably go down.” He added, “Your health improves and the health of the economy improves.”

Tim Putnam, president of MMH , introduced the governor at the meeting. Putnam said afterward he thinks there is a need for this plan in Ripley County, but it might take six months to increase plan membership. As a hospital administrator, he likes that these members will have a primary care physician, which could reduce emergency room visits. “I don’t think ER visits will be drastically reduced, but having a primary care physician for chronic problems, such as diabetes, is better utilization of health care than an ER.”

About the plan
Joe Moser explained the plan is based on a high deductible and all will be required to make a contribution, ranging from $1 to $27 a month, depending on income. This money funds a $2,500 Personal Wellness and Responsibility (POWER) account, which functions like a Health Savings Account, and can be rolled over to the following year, which could then reduce monthly payments. Some have criticized the plan saying it forces low-income people already having trouble covering basic costs such as food and shelter to make an additional payment.” Dr. David Welsh, the county health officer, said it could be a hardship but he likes that with this plan the member does not get dropped from the plan, but downgraded to the lesser plan. Putnam commented of the HIP Plus fee, “I think some on the low side will struggle with it, and we may have to discuss as a community how to help those families.”

Who is eligible?

• Anyone between the age of 19 and 64, with income under 138 percent.
• Individuals previously enrolled in HIP 1.0, Hoosier Healthwise, parents and caretakers of 19 and 20 year olds.

Overall, about 800,000 Hoosiers could benefit from this new plan, according to information from the state department.

The plan benefits

There are three types of coverage, the best being HIP Plus, which includes pharmacy, parasitic, vision and dental coverage. Cost sharing involves ER co-payments only and monthly contributions of 2 percent of income. It covers maternity services with no cost-sharing during pregnancy. The HIP Basic, for Hoosiers below 100 percent of federal poverty level, does not have vision and dental benefits and members must pay co-pays of $4 to $75. HIP Link starts in the summer and members can get help purchasing coverage through an employer.

There is also the HIP 2.0 State plan, a variation of both Plus and Basic that affords extra benefits to low-income parents and caretakers of children, 19- and 20-year-olds, medically frail enrollees and pregnant women. Members remain enrolled in HIP Plus as long as they make contributions and continue to be eligible, otherwise they may drop down to the basic plan. All members will have a primary medical provider. Members make their monthly payments by credit or debit over the phone or online, checks or money orders, automatic bank drafts, payroll deductions or cash at any Walmart. Physicians will get a higher reimbursement than Medicaid, and he said that’s important because it will keep doors open, keeping access available. Putnam agreed, saying historically the Medicaid reimbursement fee is low, but this puts it near Medicare and that will help doctors stay in practice, which improves access to rural residents in particular.
The program is funded by the state’s cigarette tax and hospital assessment fee.

How to apply?
Go online at but there are also paper and phone applications. Online gets you into coverage sooner. There is one single application for Medicaid and HIP. County health departments and libraries will soon have brochures and posters about HIP. The phone number is1-877-GET-HIP9. Pence is going around the state to further publicize the health care plan.

Pence, GOP lawmakers try to clarify freedom act

Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday in a private ceremony. The bill signing followed pressure from opponents, including convention organizers and business owners, who fear the bill could allow discrimination particularly against gays and lesbians. Pence went on national news shows Sunday to discuss the bill’s intent and Monday worked with the legislature to clarify or amend, but not repeal the bill.

Pence said in a released statement Friday, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.” He said he signed it: “because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith. Last year the Supreme Court of the United States upheld religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but that act does not apply to individual states or local government action. At present, 19 states have adopted Religious Freedom Restoration statutes.”

Many in Indiana see the act as a reaction to last year’s unsuccessful push for same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution. A rally with thousands of people was held Saturday in Indianapolis to protest the bill. Angie’s List owner has since pulled a $40 million headquarters expansion in the state due to the bill passage.

Pence also said in his statement, “In order to ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year our General Assembly joined those 30 states and the federal government to enshrine these principles in Indiana law, and I fully support that action…Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny...”

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• All about our youth: Data presents a picture of Ripley County’s children (front page)
• 5K, obstacle course: Catch ‘Spring fever’ at Tyson Activity Center
• Head-on crash near Madison: Regional Wrap-Up (page 3)
• Easter Happenings (page 6)
• Guest column: Religious freedom is a matter everyone should care about, by State Rep. Randy Frye
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