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Forecast decrease by region
Huntington, Bluffton and Decatur area…63.5 percent
Plainfield, Brownsburg and Avon area…61.1 percent
Warsaw, Auburn and Plymouth area…57.6 percent
Terre Haute, Vincennes and Jasper area…57.2 percent
Allen County…56.7 percent
Kokomo/Richmond/Marion area…55.6 percent
Lake County…55.1 percent
Lafayette/West Lafayette/Logansport area…54.8 percent
Elkhart County…52.3 percent
Indianapolis/Speedway/Beech Grove…48.9 percent
Dan Wasserman l Boston Globe

An Affordable choice

Hospital leaders throughout Indiana have been pushing state leaders to expand Medicaid to comply with the Affordable Care Act. And a recent study gives health care industry officials even more evidence that it would be the best move for Indiana under the new law.

Indiana would see one of the largest decreases in the number of uninsured residents if it expands Medicaid, according to an Urban Institute report commissioned by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid. The number of uninsured Hoosiers would decrease 54.6 percent throughout the state, according to the report released last week.

That represents the eighth-largest drop in the nation.

Some areas of Indiana would benefit even more. The number of uninsured citizens in Allen County would drop by 56.7 percent, and the Huntington, Bluffton and Decatur area would enjoy a 63.5 percent decline in the number of uninsured.

If Indiana leaders agreed to expand Medicaid, only 8 percent of the state’s non-elderly population would be without health care coverage, compared with the 17 percent who now go without.

Under the act, better known as Obamacare, the federal government covers the full cost of the Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016 and then pays 90 percent of the costs afterward.

But state Republican lawmakers, led by Gov. Mike Pence, have decided against expanding Medicaid eligibility and instead want to use the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan. The state is negotiating with the federal government for an extension allowing Indiana to continue to use the state’s plan after the current waiver expires at the end of 2013.

HIP limits the number of people covered and requires participants to share in the costs of their care. It also doesn’t pay for some of the services traditional Medicaid covers.

About 37,000 Hoosiers are covered by HIP; about 53,000 are on a waiting list.

More than 400,000 Hoosiers would qualify for Medicaid if state leaders decided to expand Medicaid.

Not only will more Hoosiers have insurance, but another study, by the Rand Corp., found states that have chosen to opt out, including Indiana, will get $8.4 billion less in federal funding and will have to pay an extra $1 billion for health care costs.

State leaders opposed to expanding Medicaid should take an open-minded look at the study’s findings and reconsider their position.