On 29-Mar-2010, one report1) stated that ”[Indiana] Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Indiana will join an amended version of the lawsuit expected to be filed soon in a federal court in Florida, becoming the 14th plaintiff.” On Sunday, 04-Apr-2010, a report2) confirmed that the Indiana Attorney General will join the lawsuit pending in Florida.
New estimates show that Indiana could be forced to spend as much as $3.6 billion through the next decade to comply with the federal health care law, a projection that frustrated GOP fiscal leaders at a State Budget Committee meeting Wednesday.
Senate Tax Chairman Brandt Hershman, R-Monticello, said he was “dumbfounded” that Congress would pass along such significant costs to the states.
Sen. Luke Kenley, the Republican who chairs the committee, suggested in frustration that the state consider dropping the Medicaid program and creating its own health system for the poor.
Later, Kenley said he wasn’t actively pursuing that option but was “trying to stir everybody up” to think about all of the state’s possibilities.
The federal law will make more than 500,000 more people in Indiana eligible for Medicaid. That means one in four Hoosiers will qualify for the program when it expands in 2014, compared with one in six today.
“I'm not seeing the doomsday scenario,” said Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend. “It's going to be more money, but half a million people are going to get insurance who don't have it.”
They assume that every individual and family that qualifies for Medicaid will join the program, even though about 47 percent of them already have other insurance.
The debate Wednesday mirrored national arguments that erupted as Congress put together and passed the health care plan earlier this year. But for state budget writers, the divide is not just philosophical. It has implications on the spending plans that lawmakers will write for the next 10 years and beyond.
Even next year, the law will have a $20 million hit on the state budget, even though the Medicaid expansion is years away.
The federal government will take away rebates the state has received in the past for doing business with drug companies and pharmacies. Congress pre-empted those rebates to help pay for its share of the health care law.
The state could also face about $300 million in administrative costs over the next few years to implement the expanded Medicaid program as well as the new health care exchanges that will help individuals find the right insurance to purchase, qualify for federal subsidies or qualify for Medicaid.
Meanwhile, Kenley said lawmakers should start to consider all their options – from drastic ones like dropping Medicaid to more nuanced changes that might encourage more insurance companies to do business in the state.
“We have to find out what our options might be,” Kenley said. “This was the opening salvo – finding out about our potential risk. Now we need to see what other options might be out there.”
Reporter Lesley Stedman Weidenbener can be reached at (317) 444-2780.Stedman Weidenbener, Lesley. “Estimate of health law's cost leaves some Indiana lawmakers 'dumbfounded'”. (Louisville, KY) Courier-Journal. May 12, 2010. Available online as of 2010-05-12.