In 2010, former President Obama and Congressional Democrats told Hoosiers, and all Americans, that the Affordable Care Act will save them money and provide greater access to care. In the following 11 years, we have instead seen a costly overhaul of the Medicaid and Medicare systems resulting in higher premiums, decreased access to health care providers caused by narrowed insurance networks, and lessened access to beneficial drugs. In short, promises made were not promises kept.
We are currently witnessing history repeat itself. President Biden and his administration have doubled down on the flawed health care law by promoting policies that inch ever closer to a government-run, socialist single-payer health care system by putting the government at the center, not the patient. No action showcases this more than the Biden Administration’s decision to block states from continuing their quality Medicaid programs. In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revoked Texas’ waiver that extends their state’s Medicaid program this coming after the Trump Administration approved the waiver on January 15, 2021. This unprecedented action by the Administration has also been repeated as recently as last week to attack parts of Indiana’s and Arizona’s Medicaid programs. Instead of encouraging efficient and effective state-based Medicaid programs, President Biden would rather Washington, D.C., bureaucrats be in charge. State-based Medicaid programs can work just look to my home state of Indiana.
In my home state of Indiana, we know just how important Medicaid waivers are in allowing states to use innovative solutions to provide quality health care for the Medicaid population. Today, the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) the Hoosier state Medicaid alternative first created by Governor Mitch Daniels and later expanded by then-Governor Mike Pence provides affordable, quality care for more than 1.5 million Hoosiers. By rejecting participation in the traditional federal Medicaid program expansion in the Affordable Care Act, Indiana was able to fund and create its own Medicaid program which expanded access and is best suited to the needs of Hoosiers. In doing so, Hoosier health care officials created a sustainable, cost efficient, and specialized health care program that provides quality care for all eligible Hoosiers. Not only have we have seen unbridled success in the program, the Healthy Indiana Plan has also become the first state in the country to receive federal approval to continue operating for another 10 years. In addition, the Healthy Indiana Plan withstood the COVID-19 pandemic and has been credited by leading health experts as a critical component of Indiana’s response to the shifting economic circumstances experienced during the pandemic.
Over the past year, America experienced the worst global health crisis of our generation. The immense strain of the COVID-19 pandemic upended health care as we knew it, attacked our families and loved ones, and caused more than 3.8 million deaths worldwide. During this time, the Medicaid program that was supposed to be stronger than ever due to the changes instituted by Congressional Democrats in the Affordable Care Act faltered. Significant administrative setbacks, including inadequate staffing, led to a massive backlog in Medicaid eligibility renewals, redeterminations, and new applications that stifled effectiveness of the program. All of these shortfalls demonstrated the inability of our federal Medicaid program to operate effectively in a time of crisis, let alone provide adequate coverage for countless Americans. This reinforced what I, Congressional Republicans, and Hoosier health care officials have long known: access to health insurance is not the same as access to quality health care.
This unprecedented global tragedy has highlighted more than ever before that state-based health care programs have the ability to adapt, sustain, and provide adequate health care coverage for their communities. The Healthy Indiana Plan demonstrated that even during the worst health crisis of our generation, it could provide health care for our citizens by providing a response made, maintained, and implemented by Hoosiers. This is something that our federal Medicaid program will never be able to do. The Affordable Care Act’s flawed policies and regulations have left Americans stuck with health care choices that continue to climb in cost and decrease in number year after year. It is clear that a state-based solution, like the Healthy Indiana Plan, is best for Hoosiers and best for Americans.
• U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon, M.D., Indiana Republican, represents the Eighth Congressional District, which encompasses all or part of 19 counties in Southwest and West Central Indiana. Prior to being elected to Congress in 2010, Dr. Bucshon was a heart surgeon for over 15 years. He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the GOP Doctors Caucus.