House Republicans reject Shackleford plan to protect Hoosier health care

March 20, 2017 Robin Shackleford

For immediate release:
March 20, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Amid rising fears about the impact of changes to the federal Affordable Care Act on Indiana, State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) today asked lawmakers to consider dedicating all revenue from a proposed cigarette tax increase toward health care for Hoosiers.

Unfortunately, House Republicans rejected the proposal, leaving more uncertainty about the state’s HIP 2.0 program if the Affordable Care Act is gutted or replaced by President Trump and Congressional Republicans.

“If the alternative proposed by the President and the Republicans in Congress is allowed to take effect, I believe we are placing at risk the health care of more than 400,000 Hoosiers who rely upon HIP 2.0 for coverage,” Shackleford said. “If that alternative becomes law, Indiana will lose the enhanced federal funding that props up HIP 2.0, and that means we will either have to find a new funding source to provide billions of replacement dollars or start taking health care away from thousands of Hoosiers.”

In that light, Shackleford said the amendment she proposed to Senate Bill 440 would provide a means to start finding some of that replacement funding.

“It would be irresponsible for us not to prepare for what could happen, rather than simply hoping for the best,” she said. “I would not accept any scenario in which we would begin to deny Hoosiers health care, so we must consider all options, and the proposed cigarette tax increase now before the Indiana General Assembly is the best first step.”

The current form of the state budget that passed out of the House last month contains a $1 cigarette tax increase, but the revenue generated by that hike would go toward filling holes in the state’s general fund that would be created through a plan to fund a multi-year, multi-billion dollar infrastructure improvement plan sought by House Republicans. Senate Republicans now considering the budget have voiced concerns about the size of the cigarette tax hike proposed by their House counterparts.

“I don’t think there should be any arguing about this,” Shackleford said. “From the start, the motivating factor behind raising the cigarette tax has been to pay for health care programs, and we should remain true to that commitment. The uncertainty about the future of health care that is currently under way in Washington, D.C., practically demands that we do something to protect those 400,000 Hoosiers. I believe this should be a priority consideration for this Legislature through the rest of this 2017 session.”