Fed approve HIP work requirement, drug treatment

Drug treatment is now covered for Indiana Medicaid recipients, but some enrolled in the Healthy Indiana Plan will be subject to a work requirement, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday.

The announcement comes after the federal government approved a “waiver” the Republican governor sought last summer, which allows Indiana to administer its health insurance plan for poor people differently than in other states.

More than 430,000 poor people receive insurance through the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, which is funded through former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

The plan was first developed under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and later expanded under then-Gov. Mike Pence, who took advantage of Obama's law to drastically increase the number of people who could receive coverage.

In its latest iteration, Holcomb is putting his own stamp on the program.

The new work requirement has a long list of exemptions and will apply to only about a quarter of those enrolled, many who already work. Those without at least a part-time job will be required to participate in a state job training program to qualify.

The requirement does not apply to those who are medically frail, pregnant, over 60, students, recently incarcerated, are in drug treatment or are primary caretakers for young or disabled children.

Holcomb estimates that the drug treatment component could provide as much as $80 million a year. Anyone on Medicaid is eligible, including HIP enrollees.

“This approval continues coverage for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and unlocks funding to expand resources to help people struggling with addiction,” Holcomb said.

However, not everyone is convinced the way Indiana administers the plan is a good idea.

For example, some HIP recipients are required to pay a monthly fee to stay enrolled. Those who are slightly above the poverty line and miss a payment — typically less than $25 —  are locked out of the program for six months.

That's kicked thousands off coverage since Pence expanded the program.

“Changing Medicaid to put more barriers in the way of people who need health care runs counter to the program's main goal: giving people health coverage,” said Frederick Isasi, executive director for Families USA.

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