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Mon, Sep 15, 2014 12:05 AM
Issue of September 10, 2014
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Obamacare begins despite shut-down


October 02, 2013 | 10:25 AM

With the clock striking midnight Oct. 1, congressional leaders could not come up with an agreeable plan for a budget. So, a shut-down of "non-essential" government functions began yeterday (Tuesday).

The shut-down coincided with the launch of new insurance exchanges as of Oct. 1 intended to expand health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The health care act will not be affected by the shut-down because it, like other mandatory functions such as Social Security, air traffic control and national defense, is protected.

The self-funded United States Postal Service will also continue to operate.

The federal government already only works with temporary spending bills, since a full, yearly budget has not been created or passed for a few years. The rejection of the latest temporary funding bill forced about 800,000 federal employees out of a job.

The Democrat-controlled Senate twice on Monday rejected the Republican-controlled House-passed bills that first sought to delay key portions of the 2010 Obamacare law, then to delay the law's requirement that millions of people buy medical insurance.

The shut-down is not unprecedented. It has occurred in the past; the last was in 1995.

For more information about the health care act or the newly opened health insurance marketplace, visit online at www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

Coverage can begin Jan. 1,, and open enrollment is set to close March 31.

For all of the talk about Obamacare, Indiana has had a state-sponsored plan in use since 2008, albeit only as a pilot program, and may only have one more year of service.

The Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) is an affordable health insurance program for uninsured adult Hoosiers, according to the state's website, www.in.gov/fssa/hip/. The program is sponsored by the state and only requires minimal monthly contributions from participants. It is for Hoosiers between the ages of 19 and 64 and offers full health benefits, including hospital services, mental health care, physician services, prescriptions and diagnostic exams.

Unlike traditional Medicaid, which Gov. Mike Pence said doesn't work well, Healthy Indiana caps the number of participants and the amount of care they can receive, does not cover all the services that Medicaid does and requires cost-sharing from recipients.

Pence said the cost-sharing aspect of the plan fuels personal responsibility and keeps costs down by giving patients an incentive to make smarter, cheaper choices about health care.

Nearly 37,000 Hoosiers are enrolled in the plan and another 53,000 are on the waiting list.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that states can't be forced to expand Medicaid eligibility, a primary way that the 2010 law (Obamacare) anticipated that millions more people would get health coverage. Federal government will pay the full cost from 2014 through 2016 for expanded Medicaid but only 90 percent after that. Currently, Indiana receives 67-percent match from the federal government on Medicaid.

Opponents of expanding Medicaid say it would cost the state too much money, while supports argue a lack of expansion would deprive Indiana of billions of dollars in federal aid.

The Healthy Indiana Plan covers those folks earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level, but the new agreement to extend the program another year, came with a reduction to only 100 percent of the poverty level.

For more information about Healthy Indiana Plan, call 1-877-GET-HIP9 (1-877-438-4479) and press 1 when prompted for the wait list for childless adults. If not currently on the wait list and a childless adult, one can still apply for HIP; those who meet the other eligibility standards will be added to the wait list in order of receipt.

Twitter: @rossschulz

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email