WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 The Bush Administration's approval of the misguided "Healthy Indiana Plan" is disappointing. The plan does little to address the needs of low-income uninsured people in the state and is unlikely to decrease the number of uninsured Indianans.
The plan claims to expand health coverage to low-income adults with incomes less than twice the poverty line, or roughly $20,000 per year for an individual. However, few low-income adults could afford to secure or maintain the coverage because of the plan's high fees.
Under the plan, for example, an individual making $10,000 would have to pay $500 per year for coverage -- a significant amount of money for someone struggling to afford basic necessities. And missing just one monthly payment could mean losing coverage for a whole year.
Experience from other states has shown that even smaller payments than those in the Indiana plan can make it impossible for a poor person to afford coverage. In Oregon, 50,000 people lost coverage after the state got federal approval to hike premiums for poor beneficiaries to as much as $240 per year.
In fact, in 2006, a Republican-controlled Congress exempted people with incomes below 150% of the poverty line from the premiums it was permitting states to charge other Medicaid beneficiaries. Just one year later, the Administration is allowing Indiana to impose unaffordable premiums on these poor and very-low income adults.
At a time when 47 million Americans, and almost 800,000 Indianans, lack health insurance, expanding access to health insurance coverage is a critical priority. Unfortunately, the Healthy Indiana Plan is a step in the wrong direction.
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SOURCE Center on Budget and Policy Priorities