Inside INdiana Business

HIP bridge program receives federal approval

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has received federal approval for its HIP Workforce Bridge program. The state says the approval from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will create a transitional phase for Healthy Indiana Plan members as they return to the workforce and employer insurance or other coverage.

Under the program, outgoing HIP participants will be allowed to use up to $1,000 from their HIP POWER accounts for up to 12 months to pay premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance as they transition to commercial health insurance coverage. The state says individuals will be able to receive the assistance as soon as they become ineligible for HIP due to earning higher incomes.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we provide stability and peace of mind for Hoosiers, especially when it comes to matters of their health,” said Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “We anticipate that more Hoosiers may need HIP health coverage during the emergency and we want to make sure that everyone can safely transition as they are able. This is one of our first efforts to mitigate the eligibility cliff effect in Indiana, which is a priority across all of our programs now more than ever.”

HIP POWER accounts are similar to health savings accounts with participants receiving $2,500 annually to use for healthcare expenses. However, participants would normally lose the ability to use funds from the accounts as soon as they are ineligible to receive HIP coverage.

Governor Eric Holcomb’s office says the program makes Indiana the first state to establish an “innovative approach to eliminating the gap in health coverage that can prevent HIP members from pursuing meaningful employment.”

“The HIP Workforce Bridge program will be especially important during our state’s recovery from the COVID pandemic and as Indiana’s economy evolves,” Governor Holcomb said in a news release. “As Hoosiers skill up, go back to school and go back to work, HIP Workforce Bridge will make that transition from HIP to marketplace insurance or employer-based coverage easier to navigate and afford.” 

The FSSA says it is currently not disenrolling members of any health coverage program due to an executive order from Holcomb as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the federal approval will allow the agency to have the program in place as soon as the governor’s executive order expires.

The HIP Workforce Bridge program was proposed in 2019 as part of Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda.