Democrats say Indiana could become 'island of the uninsured'

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The President's health care reform plan takes effect at the first of next year and states have a choice to take part or be left out.  Governor Mike Pence is not interested in taking part and Democrats are upset.

States have two choices. The first involves creating an online health insurance marketplace known as an exchange.

Governor Pence has informed the federal government that Indiana won't do it.

He also informed the Obama Administration that he thinks the second decision on whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to families who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level is, in his view, inadvisable. 

"It's been estimated that we can insure 400,000 more Hoosiers if we do this correctly," says state Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane.  He says the Medicaid expansion would cost nothing before 2020.

Democrats also say the governor is making an emotional response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act based on politics. 

"We cannot wait another day to start debating the great issue of our time which is the affordable care act," says House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, "and how do we cover every uninsured Hoosier in Indiana."

The Democrats point to Republican governors, including Rick Snyder in Michigan, who have elected to buy in to health care reform.  All of the states surrounding Indiana plan to expand Medicaid. 

"I don't think we want to be known as the island of the uninsured," says Sen. Lanane.

Governor Pence, in the meantime, has not ruled out a change of heart. 

He plans to attend meetings of the National Governor's Association and the Republican Governor's Association later this month and says he will seek outside advice when he does.  His decision on a Medicaid expansion will be made in conjunction with the passage of a new state budget in April.

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