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3,400 people to join state’s health plan

Change in eligibility frees up slots

– The Family and Social Services Administration announced Friday it would add 3,400 people to the rolls of the state’s health care plan for low-income residents and said more could seek coverage later in the year.

The number represents a small fraction of the residents who had been waiting for coverage through the Healthy Indiana Plan since it was first approved in 2008. But a change in eligibility negotiated with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s health care team created more room in the program.

“We are delighted to be able to offer participation in the consumer-driven Healthy Indiana Plan to what will ultimately be approximately 20,000 more Hoosiers in 2014,” FSSA Secretary Debra Minott said in a statement Friday. “Those who have been waiting for coverage and are still eligible will be added first, and then we expect an influx of additional Hoosiers seeking coverage in the new year.”

The new cap on total enrollment will be 45,000 residents.

The state-run plan had attracted a waiting list of about 50,000 residents.

About 5,000 from the previous waiting list reapplied by a November deadline for acceptance and 3,400 were determined eligible under the new standards. An FSSA spokesman noted, however, that residents can still apply for coverage.

The news comes as Pence continues negotiations with federal officials to expand Medicaid using the state plan.

The Pence administration won a one-year extension of the plan from the federal government last year. As part of the extension, eligibility requirements were lowered to the federal poverty level from twice that amount. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asked for the lower eligibility level on the assumption residents earning above that level would qualify for subsidies through the federal insurance website.