- - Friday, June 6, 2014

I read with interest your editorial on our proposal in Indiana to replace traditional Medicaid with the Healthy Indiana Plan, a consumer-driven program that currently serves about 40,000 low-income people in Indiana (Pence’s sellout on Medicaid expansion in Indiana, Comment & Analysis, June 3). The Healthy Indiana Plan is well-deserving of your praise. The program and its consumer-driven reforms have been a tremendous success in our state over the past six years.

I am a firm believer that Medicaid does not need to be expanded, it needs to be reformed. This is why I very explicitly ruled out Obamacare’s traditional Medicaid expansion in Indiana even before I began my term as governor. While I have said “no” to a traditional Medicaid expansion, I have remained open to providing health coverage to more low-income Hoosiers through the Healthy Indiana Plan, provided that such an expansion protects Hoosier taxpayers.

Our plan, called “HIP 2.0,” preserves the Healthy Indiana Plan’s founding principles of personal responsibility and consumerism. HIP 2.0 makes significant improvements to the Healthy Indiana Plan, most notably by introducing a defined-contribution premium-assistance option to increase access to private employer-based insurance. HIP 2.0 also broadens the personal-responsibility requirement to include every single enrollee. These conservative reforms build on the success of the existing Healthy Indiana Plan.

HIP 2.0’s financing structure is fiscally responsible. We have negotiated a financing package with Indiana hospitals, in which all future Healthy Indiana Plan expansion costs in Indiana are covered by hospital fees — and not a single state taxpayer dollar. Should that arrangement ever change and expose our taxpayers, the deal is off.

Your editorial incorrectly assumes that our proposal is an invitation to the feds to begin negotiations that will necessarily lead to our forfeiting our major reform items. We have been negotiating for more than a year, and what we have unveiled is our proposal, not an invitation to discuss it. If the consumer-driven basis of our proposal is compromised, we will not proceed.

I believe the Healthy Indiana Plan’s consumer-driven basis is the future of healthcare reform in America. Without consumer-driven healthcare reforms, we will continue to live with the government-driven health care that depresses economic growth and produces poor health outcomes. Once Obamacare is repealed and Medicaid funding is finally block-granted to the states, reforms like those seen in HIP 2.0 will help guide the future of Medicaid in America.

GOV. MIKE PENCE

Indianapolis