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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 16, 2019 1:00 am

State building bridge from HIP

For Hoosiers eyeing employer plan

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is hoping to create a program to help those on the Healthy Indiana Plan switch to employer insurance or other health care coverage, the Family and Social Services Administration announced Wednesday.

The agency has requested federal approval to create the HIP Workforce Bridge and also proposed some changes to an incoming work requirement, according to a news release.

“When you take a step forward in your career, you should also continue to take steps to be healthy,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “We want Hoosiers to pursue meaningful employment while continuing to see their doctor, take their medicines and maintain their overall health.”

Indiana's HIP program, which started in 2008, provide a consumer-driven health care plan to hundreds of thousands of low- to middle-income Hoosiers. But the next step is to develop a program that helps Hoosiers maintain coverage when their income improves and they are no longer are eligible for HIP.

If approved, the HIP Workforce Bridge will be a first-in-the-nation approach to eliminate a common obstacle that can prevent HIP members from pursuing meaningful employment, the news release said.

The program would allow outgoing HIP participants to continue to use up to $1,000 from their POWER accounts for premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for the next 12 months during their transition to commercial coverage. Unlike traditional health savings accounts, POWER accounts do not stay with the enrollee if they move to private insurance.

To establish HIP Workforce Bridge, FSSA has proposed a change to the federal waiver that authorizes the HIP program. The request aligns with full implementation of Indiana's Gateway to Work program in 2020.

“Many of us know from experience that even when someone gets a new job, there can still be a period of time when health care costs are a concern,” FSSA Secretary Jennifer Walthall said. “With HIP Workforce Bridge, we will help fellow Hoosiers move into an exciting and rewarding next phase of their lives without adding the stress of health coverage uncertainty.”

The Gateway program requires some HIP members to work or perform other qualifying educational or volunteer activities to maintain health care coverage.

The waiver request also expands an exemption to the work requirement for caretakers with dependent children younger than 13. The original proposal would have only exempted caretakers with dependent children younger than 7.

The new waiver submission would also exclude members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi from the current Gateway to Work requirement.

The proposals are budget-neutral to the program as a whole, FSSA said.