Trump HHS Approves Extension of Indiana’s Legally Suspect Medicaid Waiver Project

Trump HHS Approves Extension of Indiana’s Legally Suspect Medicaid Waiver Project

Waiver Allows Ind. to Impose Additional Onerous Requirements on Medicaid Enrollees

Washington – The Trump administration has approved an extension of Indiana’s troubled Medicaid waiver project, dubbed the “Healthy Indiana Plan” (HIP) 2.0, which includes burdensome premiums and co-pays, locks individuals out of re-enrollment when they do not pay premiums or fail to comply with administrative requirements, and imposes onerous waiting periods for eligibility. The approved extension of HIP 2.0 includes additional troubling and legally suspect components, such as a burdensome, complex, and costly work requirements program.

The National Health Law Program’s (NHeLP) Legal Director Jane Perkins said litigation is likely because the approval violates federal law.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ action is legally troubling for several reasons. Medicaid law gives the Secretary limited power to waive provisions of Medicaid,” Perkins said. “It appears that the provisions of HIP 2.0 that HHS has approved exceed the bounds of that authority.” She added, “Indiana’s waiver project has been shown to limit access to Medicaid, undermining the purpose of the program, which is to furnish health care to low-income individuals and families. HHS has now approved additional hurdles that will block access to health care for the state’s most vulnerable populations.”

Perkins added, “Beyond their questionable legality, these requirements are going to hit low-income, working Hoosiers hard.”

Focusing on some specifics of the approved waiver, NHeLP Managing Attorney of the North Carolina office Sarah Somers noted work requirements “simply should not be a part of a Medicaid waiver project – not only because they violate the law, but because they are harmful and counterproductive. The requirements will be burdensome not only for beneficiaries but also for the state. Multiple studies show that the vast majority of Medicaid enrollees already work or cannot work for an understandable reason, such as health problems or family obligations.”

Somers added, “Studies examining Indiana’s premiums, coverage lockouts, and waiting periods show that more than 2,000 Hoosiers either could not get coverage or lost it because of burdensome requirements. But the state and the Trump administration have given the go-ahead to further block low-income people from health care.”

NHeLP’s Health Policy Director Leonardo Cuello criticized Trump for furthering poor health care policy, noting that Indiana’s Medicaid waiver project’s high premiums and lockouts are endangering the lives of individuals and families struggling to survive on limited incomes.

“Research from Indiana’s chosen evaluator says the waiver’s premiums, lockouts, and waiting periods, combined, are doing what one would expect, causing low-income individuals and families to struggle to access health care if not forgo it altogether. Trump made promises on the campaign trail ensuring that no one would lose health care under his policies. A year later his administration is attacking Medicaid, threatening the health care of low-income families. The Indiana Medicaid waiver represents the real Trump, a president bent on advancing the Right’s desire to kill the nation’s long-valued domestic safety net programs.”

See NHeLP’s comments and resources about Indiana’s Medicaid waiver project here and here.

Please contact the NHeLP Communications department at leaming@healthlaw.org/301-233-0867 or diantonio@healthlaw.org /703-615-0786 to speak with Somers, Perkins or Cuello for additional comments and resources.

NHeLP, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.

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