Trust the states — we’ll deliver on healthcare


Elections have consequences. Americans are reminded of that today, just as they were eight years ago.

This week, I will travel to Washington D.C. for my first National Governors Association meeting as Indiana’s chief executive. I’ll be armed with plenty of Indiana examples to support what my colleagues from around the country already know: The greatest victories to emerge from the last decade came from the states, and they were accomplished in spite of an increasingly prescriptive and expansive federal government.

Eager to free themselves of the over-regulation and federal mission creep that kept our national recovery in a chokehold, state leaders responded with creativity and innovation. I am proud to say there is no more gleaming example of this than Indiana.


Our Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) is now the go-to model of consumer-driven healthcare for states in the Midwest and beyond. Long before ObamaCare, Governor Mitch Daniels and his team developed this program aimed at transforming patients from passive recipients of healthcare into active participants in their health.

Later, with a looming unsustainable Medicaid expansion on the horizon, then-Governor Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceTrust the states — we’ll deliver on healthcare Pence slams ‘liberal activists’ at town halls Conway: I’m not being sidelined MORE battled the federal bureaucracy in Washington for permission to grow the program responsibly and free from as many strings as possible. After two years of wading through unnecessary federal roadblocks, HIP 2.0 was born, and today 400,000 low-income Hoosiers are contributing to their healthcare costs while healthy behaviors continually improve.

HIP 2.0 members who contribute to their health care costs are more likely to seek preventative care, less likely to visit emergency rooms, and more likely to report high levels of satisfaction than those who do not. With such strong outcomes, I have petitioned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow Indiana to maintain HIP 2.0 and to use it as a vehicle to expand drug addiction and mental health treatment options, reduce smoking rates, and incentivize healthier behaviors.

Indiana’s HIP 2.0 program works because it is built by Hoosiers for Hoosiers —a true skin-in-the-game approach that reflects the core values of personal responsibility and fiscal discipline intrinsic to our communities.

Our state has applied the same home-grown approach to education, empowering families to choose the best educational fit for their children — whether that’s a traditional public school, a quality charter school, or private school. These school choice programs garner much attention, of course, but we also have taken important steps to recruit and keep great teachers in high-need subjects and communities while increasing education funding to record levels.

There are also times Indiana has elected to replace federal funding with state funds to ease burdensome federal restrictions. Transportation is a prime example. Indiana provided $150 million in grants to local communities to pursue the projects they need most unbound by state or federal limits. Similarly, Indiana leveraged the power of public-private partnerships to complete two bridges over the Ohio River, connecting Indiana and Kentucky.

In essence, rather than adhering to a formulaic approach, our state’s leaders listen to families and communities to design programs flexible enough to meet the needs of Hoosiers in every part of the state. The same is true across state government in Indiana. With our affordable housing strategies, environmental permitting, workforce development and training, and so much more, we have sought every opportunity to partner with the federal government while staying true to the unique needs of our citizens.  

The skepticism, and sometimes outright pushback, experienced from the federal government in the past eight years has been considerable, but states like Indiana have found solutions to their biggest problems anyway.  We are committed to being as responsive as possible to the families and employers we serve, and I, like my two predecessors, understand that Washington’s one size most certainly does not fit all.  

Indiana is not alone in its desire for the freedom to solve problems our own way. States are tired of unnecessary federal obstinacy against innovation and new approaches. Ignited by a decade of overreach and emboldened by a new administration eager to decentralize power, states are surging back—learning from each other and building strategies that address their needs.  

In the months and years ahead, I look forward to partnering with the Trump-Pence Administration and Congress to give states the flexibility they need to act on behalf of their citizens to solve problems quickly and more effectively.

Eric Holcomb is the 51st Governor of Indiana. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, was a trusted advisor to both Governor Mitch Daniels and U.S. Senator Dan CoatsDan CoatsTrust the states — we’ll deliver on healthcare Trump’s pick for intel chief to get hearing next week Senate Intel head in the dark about Trump intelligence review MORE, and most recently served as Lt. Governor with then-Governor, current-Vice President Mike Pence.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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Trust the states — we’ll deliver on healthcare

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