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Gov. Pence to announce expanded Healthy Indiana Plan
By Barb Berggoetz, barb.berggoetz@indystar.com / indystar.com

Gov. Mike Pence is scheduled to announce Thursday the expansion of the state's Healthy Indiana Plan as an alternative to Medicaid to cover uninsured Hoosiers.

The long-awaited announcement comes after months of negotiations with the federal government over whether it will accept the state's health plan — or a revised version of it — instead of an expansion of Medicaid.

Pence will announce details at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. Then he will speak about it in Fort Wayne at the Women of Bold Empowerment luncheon at noon, and on Friday in Jeffersonville.

Pence had been negotiating with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has since resigned, over how the state's plan can be made acceptable to the federal government.

But several coverage provisions were less robust than the Medicaid expansion provides. A key sticking point is that the Healthy Indiana Plan requires recipients under the poverty line contribute to the first $1,100 of their care — a provision prohibited by the federal government.

The Healthy Indiana Plan is a pilot Medicaid program the state started in 2008 to provide insurance to some Hoosiers who earned too much to qualify for Indiana's traditional Medicaid program — about $4,687 a year for a working mother of two — but not enough to buy private insurance.

The approach is modeled on Health Savings Accounts paired with high-deductible insurance plans sold on the private market. Advocates say they encourage people to make more responsible choices about their health care.

The plan Pence will announce Thursday will use private market-based reforms, employer-based plans, and health savings accounts to for the Medicaid-eligible population in Indiana, according to a release about the announcement from Chris Crabtree, of Pence's external operations staff.

Last December, Sebelius said in a letter to Pence that Indiana cannot get the full reimbursement for expanding Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $26,951 for a family of three, if the program requires contributions to a health savings account for people in poverty.

Star Washington bureau reporter Maureen Groppe contributed to this report. Call Star reporter Barb Berggoetz at (317) 444-6294. Follow her on Twitter @barbberg.

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Gov. Pence to announce expanded Healthy Indiana Plan