By Eric Bradner
A health insurance program launched by Indiana gets a shout-out in the federal spending and deficit reduction plan proposed Tuesday by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The GOP's 2012 vice presidential candidate is calling for Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor that is funded by both state and federal governments, to be converted into a "block grant" program that would allow states to overhaul it.
The example cited in Ryan's proposal, dubbed "The Path to Prosperity," is the Healthy Indiana Plan a program that requires its low-income enrollees to chip in up to 5 percent of their income for health savings accounts that amount to $1,100 per year.
It was included after U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, a Newburgh Republican, urged Ryan to look at Indiana's plan one that was launched under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a Medicaid waiver.
"I am proud to have worked with Congressman Paul Ryan and his staff to ensure Indiana's Healthy Indiana Plan was included in the House budget as an example of what states can achieve if the federal government allows them the necessary flexibility," Bucshon said.
"HIP instituted patient-centered reforms that have reduced costs, increased access to care for those who did not have prior access, and improved quality of care. Ultimately, I believe the states are better equipped than the federal government to tailor a Medicaid program that fits the needs of its population, but the states need the flexibility to do so."
Gov. Mike Pence has asked federal officials for permission to use the Healthy Indiana Plan as the vehicle for the Medicaid expansion to cover 400,000 more Hoosiers, as envisioned in President Barack Obama's health care law. However, Ryan's budget would eliminate federal funding for that Medicaid expansion.
An analysis by Milliman Inc., the actuary for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, recently concluded that the Healthy Indiana Plan costs about 3 percent less than traditional Medicaid.