Austin, Fleming urge governor to open state exchange and expand eligibility for the Healthy Indiana Plan
INDIANAPOLIS — Today, State Representative Terri Austin (D-Anderson) and State Representative Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) urged Governor Holcomb to open the state exchange and expand eligibility for the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) to give uninsured and underinsured Hoosiers access to health coverage during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Austin and Fleming’s letter outlines several proposals to make health coverage available to those who don’t currently have it as we face this public health emergency.
A copy of the letter can be found here and the text of the letter is pasted below.
March 27, 2020
Dear Governor Holcomb,
We want to extend our thanks and appreciation for all you and your executive team are doing to help protect Hoosiers as we all work to slow the spread of the Coronavirus across our state. These are turbulent times and it will take all of us working as a team to minimize the damage this outbreak is causing.
As we face the increasing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe the State must act swiftly to address the high uninsured rate and underinsured rate in Indiana. Hoosiers should be able to access health coverage now, through the course of this pandemic and after to ensure continuity of coverage and, ultimately, reduce the state’s uninsured rate. Giving more Hoosiers a path to coverage will benefit all aspects of our state’s health care system through this difficult and costly public health emergency.
In an effort to keep Hoosiers safe and insured through the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Holcomb, we are urging you to:
- Expand eligibility for the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), which means:
- Temporarily raising the maximum income eligibility threshold for HIP to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.
- Increasing ease of access to all Indiana Health Coverage Programs by allowing FSSA to accept virtual signatures on all application forms.
- Providing blanket approval for all of the state’s eligible presumptive eligibility sites to operate as Presumptive Eligibility Qualified Providers so they may enroll Hoosiers through the presumptive eligibility process and provide them with an immediate level of coverage.
- Considering the authorization of community agencies, such as Community Action Programs, to also act as Presumptive Eligibility Qualified Providers in order to further expand access to coverage.
- Implementing continuous eligibility for all Indiana Health Coverage Programs, inclusive of Medicaid, HIP, CHIP and Hoosier Healthwise for one year either beginning April 1, 2020 or their initial date of coverage, whichever is later.
- Allowing self-attestation for all documentation that is difficult to obtain during this time, i.e. verification of income from an employer that has closed.
- Expanding eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which means:
- Temporarily raising the maximum income eligibility threshold for CHIP to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.
- Call on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to open up a Marketplace Special Enrollment Period from April 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020 for all state health care exchanges. A special enrollment period would afford Hoosiers the opportunity to shop for health coverage on the Indiana State Exchange and access coverage that they wouldn’t have otherwise had during this public health crisis. Additionally, we ask that you request enhanced subsidies to assist with premium payments.
- Call on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), within HHS, to fast-track all proposals under the 1115 waiver program for approval — including the HIP Workforce Bridge proposal, at least for Indiana. CMS approval will allow the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) to implement this program to keep more Hoosiers insured.
- HIP Workforce Bridge would give Hoosiers leaving HIP $1,000 to purchase insurance from the Indiana State Exchange and aid in maintaining coverage if they become income ineligible after HIP income thresholds revert to current levels.
- Request that any stimulus funding made available to Hoosiers during this time is not counted as income and does not create a benefits cliff for CCDF, SNAP, TANF, FRL or impact student funding awards from the 21st Century Scholars program or other higher education assistance programs.
Taking action now to help uninsured and underinsured Hoosiers access health coverage is the right thing to do, the safe thing to do and the most economically efficient thing to do as the State deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Democrats stand ready to support you in these efforts, and we thank you for everything you and your administration are currently doing to keep Hoosiers safe during this public health emergency.
State Rep. Terri Austin, House District 36; and
State Rep. Rita Fleming, House District 71