In January 2015, leaders on both sides of the political aisle were praising the federal government’s approval of the greatly expanded Healthy Indiana Plan, otherwise known as HIP 2.0.
Republicans saw the plan that would allow more than 350,000 Hoosiers access to insurance as proof the state of Indiana could do better for Hoosiers than the federal government could. Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said, for instance, “I am glad the governor stood strong in his decision not to enact the Affordable Care Act in Indiana and pushed for a consumer-driven program that has a proven, positive history for our state.”
Our editorial pointed out that the Affordable Care Act was the entire reason why this insurance program was expanded so widely to people who previously were uninsured. The only reason Indiana moved under Gov. Mike Pence to provide this option to uninsured Hoosiers was because the Affordable Care Act provided funding to expand Medicaid or a similar program. Without the ACA and its initiative to expand Medicaid, most of those 350,000 Hoosiers would have been left without insurance.
In that same editorial, we noted that then 9th District Rep. Todd Young, now a U.S. senator, captured the reality of the situation when he praised both sides of the debate in allowing something good for the people.
He said in part: “I applaud Gov. (Mike) Pence for his tireless efforts on this front, and commend the White House for demonstrating an openness in this instance to reworking our nation’s health care laws to give Hoosiers more control of their individual health care.”
Just over two years later, Republicans in control of Congress are determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act that led to the creation of HIP 2.0. And Republicans in Indiana are asking that Medicaid funding be spared so they can continue to provide the HIP 2.0 plan that is seen as a key achievement of Pence’s time as governor. Pence, of course, is now vice president and one of the real GOP power brokers in Washington.
There’s been a lot more fire than light in political debate about health care programs for years. The GOP reviled the ACA, also known as Obamacare, despite the good it has done and the lives it has saved — and also despite the fact it borrowed significantly from a Massachusetts law championed by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating the plan put forward by the House GOP to replace the hated Obamacare would take insurance from 24 million people and make medical costs more expensive for others. The bill would reduce benefits for the poor, the sick, the elderly and the middle class.
The ACA/Obamacare wasn’t perfect, but the idea of throwing it out without an effective replacement program is ludicrous and would hurt millions of Americans, including Hoosiers who are covered through the federally funded HIP 2.0.
To borrow a word used by Young two years ago, “openness” to maintaining programs that are working, no matter their political origins, should be a priority in Washington D.C. In Indiana, that means assurance that HIP 2.0 is allowed to stand with the federal support it gets through the ACA.