DSC_3221 copy

As a practicing nurse for the past thirteen years I have had a first hand opportunity to view the effects of healthcare access on people’s lives. Indiana is currently ranked 39th in the country in overall health status. While this is a slight improvement from 41st in past years, Indiana still has a long way to go in helping create a healthy population. We are ranked 49th in public health funding, clearly showing that those in power do not view your family’s health as a priority worthy of tax dollars.

I feel strongly that healthcare is a right that should be afforded to all citizens. Until we can get to that level, however, it should at least be made easily available to our state’s most vulnerable populations: children, seniors, and low income families. Our current Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 (HIP 2.0) programs do just that and are extremely successful.

The CHIP program, which helps children from low-income households receive quality healthcare, services close to 100,000 children in our state. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the state paid $23 of every $100 spent in CHIP healthcare costs. Post ACA, our state was given additional money to help fund this much needed program, reducing our state contribution to $0.38 for every $100 spent. Unfortunately, the CHIP program was not renewed at the federal level and no one is sure if it will be in the future. At this time, that means there is funding to keep the program going only until 2019. After that, these children will lose their healthcare coverage.

HIP 2.0 is the very successful program that makes quality healthcare affordable and accessible to low income families across the state. This program has also helped expand healthcare services to rural areas where previously the choices were few, due in part to the  exceptional rate of reimbursement for fees and services at the national Medicare level. The previous version, HIP, was only available to 35,000 citizens and did not provide as many benefits as the new version does. When then Gov. Pence finally accepted the Medicaid expansion from the ACA provisions, it allowed HIP 2.0 to become a reality. The current program is available to anyone who meets the income eligibility requirements and is currently servicing 600,000 Hoosiers. Gov. Holcomb has said that he “has not seen a more successful program” than HIP 2.0, but unfortunately weeks later announced his support for the repeal for the ACA which would take all of the new HIP 2.0 provisions away, reverting back to the old HIP program. Losing HIP 2.0 would mean 565,000 Hoosiers, including 33,000 seniors, would lose their healthcare coverage.

As your State Representative I will fight to protect the programs we have in place to provide healthcare coverage to our most vulnerable citizens, while working on ways to improve cost and coverage for all Hoosiers. I will also work on and support legislation that will increase the access and affordability of women’s healthcare. Women should be in charge of their bodies and their family planning choices. We need to provide women with education, screening services, procedures, and medications in areas that are non-judgemental, geographically convenient, and affordable so they can make the best informed decisions for themselves and their families.