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Candidates for Indiana governor criticize proposed disabled care cutbacks

Governor candidates address Medicaid shortfall

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — More than one of the Republican candidates for governor on Thursday said the state shouldn’t cut a Medicaid service for the disabled to fill a budget hole.

The comments came during a forum in Carmel in which, among other things, the candidates were asked about their plans to control medical costs.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration last week said it plans to discontinue a program that reimburses parents and guardians of medically complex children for caregiving expenses. The move is in response to last month’s discovery that the state faces a billion-dollar Medicaid funding shortfall.

The announcement brought dozens of families to the Statehouse to protest on Monday. The agency has said parents will have the option to enroll in a new program that pays a daily rate.

The forum featured the five major Republican gubernatorial candidates: Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov Suzanne Crouch, former Attorney General Curtis Hill, former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers and former Indiana Economic Development Corporation President Eric Doden.

Not all of the candidates directly addressed the FSSA issue but those who did said the agency should not discontinue the program.

“I will continue to fight for them and their families so that they can continue to fulfill the dreams they dream and build the lives they want to build, and that is our responsibility,” Crouch said.

The candidates offered similar views on a variety of social issues in particular.

All of them said they supported the idea of diverting individual students’ school funding into education savings accounts which could then be used to pay for tuition at either a traditional public school, a charter school or a private school.

All five candidates said they would send National Guard soldiers to the southern border, shut down the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity, block any effort to speed up the decommissioning of coal power plants, and support efforts to require school board candidates to declare a party affiliation.

As in previous forums, the candidates differed most on economic policies.

Chambers said he considers growing the state’s economy the governor’s number-one job. He said the IEDC’s incentives don’t get paid out unless companies can prove they are delivering the jobs they promised.

“It takes competition in the global economy,” he said. “We have a good product, and it’s the people and the universities and the location and we have the tools and we’re investing them well.”

Braun and Doden said the IEDC should place greater emphasis on growing small and medium-sized businesses in all 92 counties rather than focusing on landing large corporations.

Crouch said the best way to grow the economy is to eliminate the state income tax. Hill said he disagrees with the notion that economic development is the government’s job in the first place.

The candidates also were asked about a bill to limit any emergency declaration by the governor to 30 days and require legislative approval for anything longer. The bill has already passed the Senate and is now in the House. All five candidates said they support the idea.