Indiana will expand Medicaid if members pay premiums

Indiana will expand its Medicaid program to an additional 350,000 consumers--if the federal government approves Gov. Mike Pence's (R.) proposal that certain beneficiaries must pay premiums or lose coverage, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Hoosier State officials have been negotiating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for months without reaching an agreement. Pence wants to expand the state's existing Healthy Indiana Plan, which functions like a high-deductible plan and health savings account, and require new members pay $15 to $25 monthly premiums, reported the Richmond Indiana News. If those members fall behind on their payments, they could lose coverage for six months.

"We simply will not agree to terms with the federal government that ultimately remove or water down the core principles. The core principles are personal responsibility, having a set of incentives and consequences," Pence told the WSJ. "We've grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of flexibility."

Pence added that if he can convince CMS officials to agree to his expansion model, "several" other states could be willing to grow their Medicaid plans under the Affordable Care Act as well.

So far, 27 states have expanded Medicaid, and nine more are talking about expansion, while three more may follow suit, depending on the outcome of November's midterm elections, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Pence spoke with President Barack Obama for several minutes on Friday when he flew into Indiana for an unrelated visit. White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the conversation, saying Obama discussed "the administration's willingness to work with state officials in Indiana to expand Medicaid," the WSJ noted.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- see the Richmond Indiana article