Today was the final day for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But the status of the law in Indiana is somewhat nebulous.
Certain parts of the law are supposed to be enacted through the states. However, many Republican-controlled state legislatures have refused to cooperate on them.
One such element is a federally-funded Medicaid expansion that every state is entitled to receive. However, this part of the law hasn’t been so universally ignored. While some Republican governors have declined it, others have accepted it.
And occupying the netherworld between the two is our Governor, Mike Pence. Instead of accepting it outright, he instead wants to rework the funds into the already-existing Healthy Indiana plan. The main difference between the two is that Pence’s plan would require eligible recipients to pay a bit into it, whereas the outright expansion would not.
His plan almost collapsed in November because the state didn’t file for Federal review on time. Thankfully, the Feds granted an extension to keep the existing Healthy Indiana plan and figure out his proposed expansion. Still, it probably won’t be implemented for some time.
All the while, Indiana’s uninsured rate stands at 15 percent. Here in the Region (Lake and Porter County), the U.S. Census lists it as above the state average. Estimates also suggest that the refusal to expand Medicaid led to thousands of deaths nationwide for people without healthcare access.
At worst, Governor Pence’s actions seem like he’s just kicking the issue down the road until people forget about it. This could backfire hard, as with each new figure, the ACA appears to be embraced more with every passing year. At best, he’s just playing politics, trying to expand benefits while also appearing to not give in to the President.
I’m guessing the latter, but all the time we wait on the Feds to approve Healthy Indiana is time poor Hoosiers don’t get Medicaid coverage. And on top of that, Pence’s political gambit appears to not be working, as polls on both sides are painting him as accepting the expansion. Considering those two factors, the Governor should just accept the expansion and move on. The state will be better off for it.