HIP 2.0 story is one worth sharing

South Bend Tribune

The health care debate rages on, with little agreement on anything — including, most notably, the facts.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, by a narrow margin, voted on Tuesday to begin debate on health care legislation in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Closer to home, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, in a “letter to fellow Hoosiers” that appears on this page, expresses support for Republican efforts to cut Medicaid spending but doesn’t endorse the Senate bill.

In a Monday tweet, Holcomb’s predecessor had this to say: “@POTUS Trump & the American people are counting on the Senate to act & to begin the debate on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Tuesday’s vote launches the debate, but what comes next? Vice President Mike Pence actually has a lot to offer in this bitterly divisive discussion, though he hasn’t chosen to do so as of yet. As we’ve noted before, his experience in brokering health care solutions and bridging political differences could be instructive. This conservative who railed against Medicaid as a “broken” program can explain how he found a way to expand Medicaid here in Indiana — to the benefit of hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. And he and his administration did so by working with the Obama administration.

Pence’s HIP 2.0 plan, which combines conservative principles with federal dollars, was criticized by those who preferred straight-up Medicaid expansion and those who opposed accepting Obamacare money. But it’s been a real success story and you can count the state’s Republican governor and Democratic leaders as HIP 2.0 supporters.

The program could be in jeopardy, depending on what Congress does. Even without knowing the exact details of the Senate plan, it’s clear that any plan that slashes Medicaid expansion without changing federal support for traditional Medicaid would reduce the state’s Medicaid enrollment.

Given the pride Pence displayed in launching HIP 2.0 in 2015 — which came only after an extended period of negotiations — would he want to see the program weakened and Hoosiers lose their health care coverage? In fact, in an op-ed in January 2016, the then-governor envisioned an even brighter future for health care, where states had “even more flexibility to innovate and strengthen programs like HIP 2.0.”

Fortunately, the vice president has firsthand knowledge in how to get the job done. Time to share it with the folks in D.C.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.