16/07/2024

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Health care bills aim to reform insurance, Medicaid reimbursement rates | State News

Health care bills aim to reform insurance, Medicaid reimbursement rates | State News

INDIANAPOLIS — A slew of health care bills moving through the legislature target high prices for Hoosiers by encouraging competition and restructuring how the state pays for services under Medicaid.

But critics say the bills don’t go far enough and more is needed to reform the system – especially for government insurance reimbursement rates.

BILLS IN THE HOUSE

In the House Chamber, lawmakers sent two health care bills – both caucus priorities for Republicans – for consideration in the Senate.

The first bill attempts to navigate the complexity of health insurance while the second penalizes hospitals for high prices.

Under House Bill 1003, authored by Rep. Craig Snow, businesses with less than 50 employees would receive a $400 tax credit per employee if owners adopt a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

The second of two health care bills advanced by the House, House Bill 1004, also includes a tax credit for (HRAs) as well as a credit to physician-owned health care facilities.

Snow, R-Warsaw, said that half a million small businesses in the state had 20 or fewer employees and thousands of employees couldn’t offer their employees insurance.

“The shift to HRAs is a decrease in costs for both parties,” Snow said about employers and employees.

HRAs are funded by employers, under which employees are reimbursed tax-free for qualified medical expenses up to a certain amount each year. The increasingly popular accounts are used in tandem with traditional health insurance, often in a high deductible plan, and operate similar to health savings accounts.

On the other hand, Rep. Donna Schaibley’s House Bill 1004 aims to create more competition among both insurance companies and health care providers while also penalizing some hospitals whose rates exceed the national average.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, voiced his support for the bill, saying that Indiana University Health, based in his district, had done much to discourage competition in his area while charging more for services.

“But what concerns me more – our quality of care is actually declining at the same time we’re paying more,” Pierce said. “I think this bill is a start but we need a comprehensive approach.”

But Pierce’s colleagues were split in their support for the two health care bills, saying the proposals didn’t go far enough.

“I didn’t see anything… that would meet the test for real progress,” Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said. DeLaney, who voted against both bills, said national – not state – officials needed to take action.

“I think we tend to mislead people to think we’re doing something substantive when we can’t.”

DeLaney and nine other Democrats voted against both proposals. House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, also voted against Schaibley’s bill.