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An opioid epidemic. High smoking rates. Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges. Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Indiana Medicaid Proposal Sparks Passionate Public Comment

Photo by Lauren Chapman/Indiana Public Broadcasting.
Photo by Lauren Chapman/Indiana Public Broadcasting.
Indiana's waiver from the federal government to administer the Healthy Indiana Plan expires at the end of 2019 unless it is extended.

Indiana has applied for a 10-year extension of its Medicaid health insurance program, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan. This fairly routine move sparked passionate public commentary on Tuesday afternoon. 

The state is looking to continue its Healthy Indiana Plan largely unchanged but with additional flexibility. The state also applied for a five-year extension of a waiver that allows for better reimbursement of substance use disorder services. 

At a public hearing Tuesday afternoon, nearly a dozen people voiced support for the extension. But some called for an end to policies like a work requirement and mandated contributions into a health savings account. 

Those who commented included representatives from Managed Health Services, Indiana Hospital Association and The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis. 

Hairstylist Melodie DeMarco, a member of activist group Hoosier Action, wants administrative requirements of the Healthy Indiana Plan to be streamlined. 

"Some of the situations I’ve encountered were being kicked off medical coverage because I failed to turn in a paper," DeMarco says. "I’ve just jumped through a lot of hoops to make sure my kids and I still have medical coverage." 

Written comments on the extension can be submitted to the state Family and Social Services Administration through Dec. 6.

Carter is a reporter for Side Effects Public Media and WFYI in Indianapolis. She can be reached at