Some Hoosiers on the Healthy Indiana Plan will soon have to submit monthly work reports to their health insurance providers to ensure their continued eligibility under part of a program called Gateway to Work.
The Healthy Indiana Plan is a public health care program funded by the federal and state government which provides care to hundreds of thousands of low-income people.
This number may soon drop.
James Gavin, spokesperson for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the state agency that deals with the Healthy Indiana Plan, said the changes will only apply to a relatively small portion of people on HIP because most are exempt.
Starting in July, members without exemptions or information in the system already showing they work at least 20 hours a week — about 76,000 people — will have to report their work hours to still eligible, Gavin said. Eligibility can come through employment, volunteer work or enrollment in college courses, among other methods.
The list of exemptions and eligibility requirements is on the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration website.All HIP recipients who will be affected by the new requirement have been notified about it at least twice, Gavin said.
Those affected will be required to report at least 20 hours of work per month starting this July. The hour requirements will increase periodically, and by July 2020, it will be 80 hours a month.
If recipients don’t meet the requirements, their insurance may be suspended.
Those who have to submit the monthly reports can do it online or over the phone. The reports will then be checked at the end of each year, Gavin said. As long as recipients submit a report at least eight out of the 12 months, they will still qualify.
Tracey Hutchings-Goetz is a community organizer for Hoosier Action, an organization working to help residents fight for basic rights such as health care. She said this monthly requirement could kick thousands of low-income Indiana residents off their insurance plans.
“It’s absurd,” she said. “This is a huge part of so many peoples’ lives.”
Hutchings-Goetz said she thinks filling out paperwork online will be difficult for residents in rural communities because they might not have internet access and those working multiple jobs may struggle to find time to fill it out.
More than 18,000 Arkansas residents lost their insurance beginning last year because of a similar requirement, according to the Arkansas Times.
Hoosier Action member Georg’ann Cattelona said the change could also affect rural hospitals and clinics that rely on reimbursement from patients’ insurance.
“It’s unspeakably cruel to do that to people,” Cattelona said.
Since March, Hoosier Action members have been traveling throughout Indiana to different neighborhoods in cities Bloomington, Bedford and Spencer to knock on doors and rally people to fight against the potential changes.
Some received letters in the mail notifying them of the new requirement if they are on HIP, said Jackie Nester, who is in charge of the door-to-door part of the campaign.
Those who received letters are often confused or nervous about what the changes will mean for them, Nester said.
The Hoosier Action members will explain the requirements to concerned residents, Nester said, but mainly want to encourage them to fight against the changes.
Hutchings-Goetz said Hoosier Action members are encouraging those they visit to come door-knocking with them in the future or contact their local representatives and voice their concerns. The organization also plans on going to the Indiana Statehouse to talk to legislators.
“Health care shouldn’t be a privilege,” Nester said. “It should be a right.”