(INDIANAPOLIS) – Senate Minority Caucus Leader Greg Taylor (D – Indianapolis), Assistant Minority Caucus Leader Shelli Yoder (D – Bloomington), and Minority Caucus Chair J.D. Ford (D – Indianapolis) released the following joint statement on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus in response to ongoing developments from the state’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), which has been implementing programming changes designed to decrease spending after an unanticipated $1B shortfall at the end of 2023:

“We are increasingly concerned about the impact of so-called ‘sustainability changes’ being implemented by FSSA, particularly amidst the state’s transition to a managed care model for aging Hoosiers scheduled to begin in July.

Our entire Caucus sent a letter to FSSA leadership in January detailing related concerns about major modifications to the attendant care program. These changes and other administrative decisions, including implementation of a waitlist for the Aged and Disabled (A&D) Waiver for Medicaid services, should be called out for what they are: an attempt to balance FSSA’s budget shortfall on the backs of the most vulnerable Hoosiers. Arbitrary limits on how many Hoosiers can even be considered for Medicaid programs like the A&D waiver will inevitably force many to choose between exorbitantly expensive institutional care — forcing vulnerable people out of their homes and into care facilities — or no care at all. How long do we expect our aging, sick, and impoverished neighbors to be able to wait?

“The legislative supermajority had ample opportunity to begin to address these challenges in the 2024 Session. There was bipartisan support for proposals to increase transparency and oversight at FSSA without compromising the care the agency makes possible, particularly for our state’s aging population and children living with medically complex needs. The supermajority’s Republican leadership refused to even hear FSSA’s agency bill in order to silence debate and avoid difficult questions about who will be harmed in the name of fixing this billion-dollar ‘mistake’. Failure to foresee the growth in demand for these necessary programs is no excuse to force our elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged neighbors to go without care while the architects of our state budget figure out where they went wrong.

“Increased demand for and utilization of Medicaid services is not a problem unique to our state. If we want to keep spending on Medicaid under control, we need to address the root causes that force so many Hoosiers to live in poverty and ill-health. In the meantime, we must be compassionate and focused on the effects of administrative deadlines, waitlists, and rule changes on the people our state government is elected to serve.

“Every delay is a denial of care to someone who already knows they need it. Hoosiers can’t wait until 2025 for their legislators to get serious about fixing the problems at FSSA and make sure every person who qualifies for public assistance gets access to the high-quality care they deserve at a price they can afford.

“We encourage all Hoosiers with questions and concerns about these ongoing issues to contact their legislators. In the meantime, we are calling directly on Governor Holcomb and leadership in both chambers to do what they refused to do while we were in Session:

  1. Establish public accountability for the errors that led to the billion-dollar shortfall in the Medicaid budget, including a full agency audit at FSSA, 
  2. Hold public hearings to help all Hoosiers understand what happened and how the programs they rely on are being affected, and
  3. Work with lawmakers in both parties to develop a plan all stakeholders can support that will keep Medicaid solvent without compromising access to care for Hoosiers who qualify under present programs.

“We will continue monitoring the agency’s decisions closely and working with our colleagues in the Senate to find the solutions we need without sacrifices we simply cannot afford to make.”