People gathered in a large circle at the Monroe County Public Library Wednesday for the Save Hoosier Healthcare Campaign Kickoff. They dragged over chairs, sitting outside the circle as the meeting room overflowed with attendees.
Hoosier Action, a Southern Indiana nonprofit political organization, launched the campaign. The group’s goal is to advocate against new work requirements for the Healthy Indiana Plan, which is Indiana’s form of Medicaid. The group is also working to advocate for a stronger Medicaid system within the state.
“I did not want to sit by and watch healthcare profiteers take over our state and our healthcare system,” said Will Stauffer, a community organizer for Hoosier Action.
Hoosier Action co-sponsored the campaign launch with eight other groups including Medicare for All Indiana, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard and Indiana Recovery Alliance.
Indiana’s Gateway to Work program, announced Feb. 2, 2018, requires people with Medicaid to work part-time or lose their coverage unless they qualify for an exemption.
Having a job is not the only thing that can satisfy the requirement. There are other options such as volunteering, educational programs or job skills training.
But according to Tracey Hutchings-Goetz, a community organizer for Hoosier Action, this plan is overly complicated and will remove a large amount of Indiana residents from their Medicaid plan.
“It is a tremendous amount of bureaucracy and additional labor in people’s lives,” Hutchings-Goetz said. “That is going to make it a heck of a lot harder to keep their healthcare.”
Throughout the night, multiple organizers from Hoosier Action shared experiences of how the healthcare system has failed them and what the new work requirements mean for their future.
Hoosier Action organizerEva Bell said even her two jobs won’t be enough to meet the paperwork requirements, putting her and her three kids at risk of losing healthcare and going into debt.
“This healthcare system is failing me,” Bell said. “And I know it’s failing everyone here as well.”
Hoosier Action executive director Kate Hess Pace said the group’s program for taking action for the summer provides many opportunities to get involved in the campaign, such as door-knocking every weekend around South and Central Indiana.
“We’ve been working on healthcare since we started,” Pace said. “During the midterms, we knocked on about 13,000 rural doors and talked primarily about healthcare.”
This is in preparation for the delivery of thousands of postcards to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office and a protest at the Statehouse on July 1.
Hoosier Action is partnering with Communications Workers of America for the protest. Until then Hoosier Action will work with volunteers and members of the organization at least two days a week to prepare, Hutchings-Goetz said.
She said this work consists of audits, writing letters and making phone calls. The group is also exploring legal options by working with Indiana Legal Services, which is interviewing people about their experiences on the Healthy Indiana Plan.
“I don’t want to hear that we can’t do it,” Hutchings-Goetz said. “Because we absolutely can. And we have to if you think that healthcare is a human right.”