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January 25, 2011 


IU Center for Health Policy issues recommendations for moving forward on health reform in Indiana

Jan. 25, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Center for Health Policy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis today released a proposal for establishing a Hoosier Health Insurance Exchange to be governed and managed by a new quasi-independent state agency called the Hoosier Health Commission.

The proposal comes in response to the new federal health reform law, enacted in March 2010, which requires that each state establish an American Health Benefit Exchange to help all Americans purchase health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014.

Last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels took a first step toward implementing the new law by signing an executive order to "conditionally establish and operate a state-based healthcare benefit exchange." The Center for Health Policy proposal outlines an alternative strategy, one that would keep Indiana in compliance with federal law but which would lay a stronger foundation for improving the healthcare delivery system in Indiana and the health of Hoosiers in the longer-term.

While the commission's principal focus over the next few years would be to implement the exchange and improve access to affordable health insurance in Indiana, it also would be charged with examining and developing new state-wide policy to increase the efficiency of the health care delivery system and the overall health of all Hoosiers.

The proposal is explained in a 16-page report written by Eric Wright, director of the Center for Health Policy, and his staff. "Indiana has an opportunity to transform both its health care system and its population's health," the report says. "The Hoosier Health Insurance Exchange will be a powerful tool that can control costs, increase access to care, and improve the state's overall insurance market."

More generally, by taking a longer-term and broader perspective, Wright believes that "we can and should take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to consider carefully a broader range of reforms that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care delivery system and, ultimately, the health of all Hoosiers."

The proposal also includes long-term recommendations on combining individual and small-business health exchanges and risk pools, improving the state's eligibility requirements, streamlining applications, billing and collecting premiums, selecting "navigators" to help individuals find health coverage, and providing long-term funding.

It suggests establishing a Hoosier Health Commission with an executive director and permanent staff and with a 15-member governing board, whose members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature's Health Finance Commission.

While the approach outlined is more comprehensive than the governor's proposal, Wright and his staff at the Center for Health Policy believe the proposed Hoosier Health Commission and the Hoosier Health Insurance Exchange will become a national model for implementing federal health reform and for improving the public's health.

The full report may be seen online at a link from the Center for Health Policy website.

For more information or to speak with Wright, please contact Steve Hinnefeld, University Communications, at 812-856-3488 or slhinnef@indiana.edu, or Lyndy Kouns, Center for Health Policy, at 317-278-5905 or lkkouns@iupui.edu.