News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

April 17, 2013

Readers’ Forum: April 17, 2013

TERRE HAUTE — Time to expand

state’s Medicaid


Thank you for your very timely recent coverage of Medicaid expansion. This is a huge issue for Indiana taxpayers, business people, hospitals, and especially for the people who work at minimum-wage jobs.

It is now at a critical point in the Indiana legislature. Medicaid expansion would extend Medicaid to the working poor: Those below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $15,000 for a single person). Come January, without expansion, there will be a train wreck: Most people up to 100 percent of the FPL (about $11,000 for a single person) will have no health insurance at all, unless via their employer.

So, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers will have no way at all of buying insurance. Well over a billion dollars per year of the tax dollars Indiana sends to Washington will not be returned to our economy to (fully) pay for the program. It will be lost. The economy is still fragile, and we will miss out on about $3 billion annually in increased economic activity and over 30,000 new jobs. These are huge numbers.

Many of the jobs lost would be in small communities, which often have high unemployment. Terra Haute’s hospitals will no longer be paid to care for those uninsured people. Layoffs or worse are possible.

Both the legislature and the governor have to-date insisted on using the “Healthy Indiana Plan” for expansion, but it is very unlikely to be approved by the feds for the billions in funding. Legislation that provides a backup to HIP using “real” Medicaid has been defeated in the Senate. This situation could be corrected soon as the budget is finalized late in the current legislative session.

It is time to demand approval of Medicaid expansion: To save lives and health, create jobs, and save our hospitals.

— Kay Mueller

Bloomington

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