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Monday, September 09, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - More on: Indiana secures one-year waiver for the state-run insurance program, will push 11,000 current enrollees off its rolls; Michigan moves in other direction

Updating this ILB entry from Sept. 4th, here are some quotes from Maureen Hayden's Sept. 8th CNHI column, here in the New Albany News & Tribune, headlined "State cracking under health care strain: Indiana ranks 47th in the infant mortality rate."

INDIANAPOLIS — In the war over the Affordable Care Act, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence won a policy victory when the Obama administration gave him a temporary pass to continue with the Healthy Indiana Plan, a high-deductible health insurance program that covers only 37,000 low-income Hoosiers.

The reprieve came on the condition that the state continues to consider its coverage options for another 300,000 uninsured Hoosiers — mostly the working poor — who’ve been left out in the cold by Pence’s decision not to expand traditional Medicaid coverage, as 25 other states have opted to do under the ACA.

During a press conference to announce the decision, Pence called it a “victory for Hoosiers” enrolled in the program (which has a waiting list of 55,000) as reporters questioned him about other Hoosiers without health care insurance.

Pence’s response was to say there was a “broad range of services” available to uninsured Hoosiers, from public clinics to hospital charity care.

“Let’s make sure there is a distinction in the language between health insurance and health care,” he said. “Every person in this state has the ability, if they are struggling with illness, to walk into an emergency room and receive care.”

Actually, according to the Indiana Hospital Association, about 2.7 million people walk — or otherwise enter — emergency rooms in Indiana hospitals every year, many because they have no place else to go.

Pence’s call for hospitals to step up ignores the fact they’ve already stepped up. According to the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana’s hospitals eat about $3 billion a year delivering uncompensated care to people who can’t pay their hospital bills. About $1.7 billion of that was the “charity care” that, by Indiana law, nonprofit hospitals are required to deliver.

The hospitals don’t absorb all those lost dollars. Those of us with insurance do, said Linda White, president of Deaconess Health Systems in Southwest Indiana, where one out of every four emergency room patients can’t afford to pay their medical bills.

“Those costs are shifted to the people who can pay,” White said.

The second half of the column discusses some of the reasons behind Indiana's abysmal infant mortality rate, concluding with:
The governor’s own health commissioner, Dr. William VanNess, recently noted that an infant born in Indiana has a higher rate of dying before its first birthday than almost anywhere else in the nation. Indiana now ranks 47th out of the 50 states in infant mortality.

[Indiana Rural Health Association President Don] Kelso sees that as a signal of failure by both the health care industry and the state:

“We’re down near the bottom. We’re right down there with Mississippi and Arkansas in the number of babies that are dying. Think about that.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 9, 2013 08:17 AM
Posted to Indiana Government