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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, January 30, 2016 10:09 pm

In contrast to Obamacare, HIP 2.0 is a success

Mike Pence

Last week marked the first anniversary of the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and today, more than 370,000 low-income Hoosiers are enrolled in a program based on personal responsibility and empowering people to take ownership of their health care choices.

The success of HIP 2.0 is a testament to the value of state-led innovation in health care reform. We are expanding access to care for Hoosiers and we’re doing it the Indiana way.

HIP is the first consumer-driven health plan in the history of Medicaid and is available to Hoosiers with incomes of less than about 138 percent of the federal poverty level, $33,865for a family of four.

Unlike Medicaid in any other state, HIP 2.0 empowers low-income Hoosiers to take charge of their health. Hoosiers who enroll in HIP 2.0 make monthly contributions to their health account, and the plan allows them access to commercial health benefits. Those who make consistent contributions can access vision and dental benefits, and those who complete required preventive care can use their remaining balance to offset future contributions. 

Since HIP 2.0 began, nearly 70 percent of enrollees have made contributions to their health savings account. Hoosiers are now in the driver’s seat of their health and consulting their doctors – not the government – on options that are right for them.

When it comes to individuals who moved from traditional Medicaid into HIP 2.0, emergency room use is lower by an average of 42 percent. This relieves pressure on the ER, drives down health care costs and emphasizes preventive care before emergencies arise. 

In addition, we launched HIP’s Gateway to Work program to provide job training and placement services for members. HIP Link also provides premium assistance for individuals choosing to participate in their employer’s health plan. 

Not only is HIP 2.0 working for Hoosier citizens, it is also increasing the number of hospitals and clinics offering services to people enrolled in the program. In the last year, more than 5,300 health care providers have been added to the list of facilities that offer services under the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Most importantly, HIP 2.0 is improving the lives of low-income Hoosiers every day.

Over the past year, I met numerous HIP 2.0 enrollees who are now regularly visiting a doctor, taking their medicines or even had life-threatening diagnoses like cancer caught early rather than go untreated. 

Hoosiers should be encouraged that the progress we’ve made sets our program apart from the traditional Medicaid expansion called for under Obamacare.

In contrast to HIP 2.0, traditional Medicaid remains a broken federal program desperately in need of reform. Now 50 years old, numerous studies highlight Medicaid’s perpetually poor outcomes with one study showing that Medicaid coverage is actually worse than having no coverage at all. That’s why Indiana ruled out expanding traditional Medicaid from the outset. 

Innovative state programs like HIP 2.0 are the model for health care reform going forward. Obamacare is a deeply flawed law with its mandates, taxes and overreaches. Obamacare was never the right solution for Indiana or the nation, and it should be repealed. 

Obamacare did not create the Healthy Indiana Plan. HIP existed before Obamacare, and it will exist after Obamacare. Unlike Obamacare, HIP is popular, successful, bipartisan and has demonstrated results. 

Of course, when Obamacare is repealed there will need to be a transition period, like the one in the repeal bill that recently passed Congress, allowing a new administration in Washington the ability to reform Medicaid and provide states even more flexibility in order to innovate and strengthen programs like HIP 2.0. 

As we mark the first year of HIP 2.0, our results are promising, but there is still work to do. Hoosiers may be assured that my administration will continue our efforts to increase the health and well-being of Hoosiers through personal responsibility, self-sufficiency and independence. And we will continue to promote the Healthy Indiana Plan and increase access to high quality coverage.

That’s the Indiana way.