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February 2020

Saving lives through Indiana’s Safe Haven Laws

The Indiana House of Representatives recently honored a Bartholomew County teen for his fundraising efforts to prevent infant deaths in the community. Columbus North High School graduate Hunter Wart spent more than a year collecting scrap metal and mowing lawns to raise the $10,000 needed to install a Safe Haven Baby Box at the Seymour Fire Department. In January, Wart’s hard work led to the first child in the Seymour community saved using this life-saving device.

In 2015, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation allowing local cities and towns to install Safe Haven Baby Boxes in fire stations and hospitals across the state. This resource allows distressed parents to surrender their baby safely and legally while remaining anonymous. Since then, there have been no reported infant deaths from illegal abandonment.

The temperature-controlled box alerts first responders within a minute of placing the child inside. When the door of the box is first opened, a silent alarm is triggered, sending an alert to emergency providers and nearby staff.

Indiana is now leading the nation in the number of baby boxes, with 21 installed throughout the state, and more communities are working to add them. If a Safe Haven Baby Box is not available, parents can still legally surrender their infant under the Safe Haven Law.

This law allows people to anonymously leave infants younger than 30 days old with emergency service providers with no questions asked, as long as the child shows no signs of abuse.

If you or someone you know is considering surrendering a newborn, trained professionals can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-99baby1.

For more information visit shbb.org.

Preparing The Workforce Of Today And Tomorrow

Indiana’s jobless rate continues to be at its lowest level since 2000. That isn’t the only data point indicating Hoosiers are experiencing a booming job market.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits in 2019 fell to its lowest level in more than 10 years. The state’s labor force participation rate continues to climb higher than the national average.

With a need for more workers, it is important for Hoosiers to acquire the skills and training required to fill increasingly technical jobs. In 2017, lawmakers created the Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant program. Since then, more than 10,000 Hoosiers have earned a high-value certificate and approximately 23,000 are currently enrolled.

The program works to drive economic growth by providing education and training. Employees can receive up to $5,000 and employers up to $50,000 in grant money to help pay for training costs. Because of Next Level Jobs, more residents are now better prepared to work in high-paying, high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing, information technology and health and life sciences.

In addition to Next level Jobs, Indiana’s tax cuts play a role in spurring business investment and attraction from outside the state. Indiana is ranked the 10th most favorable in the country on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. This includes corporate and individual tax rates and sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes. Indiana also ranks favorably compared to neighboring states.

With statistics and initiatives like these, Indiana can continue to break employment records and create a welcoming place for businesses to start and grow.

Putting A Stop To Surprise Medical Bills

As the legislative session moves full-speed ahead, state lawmakers continue to look at what is important to Hoosiers, including helping curb growing health care costs. This session, House Republicans passed a bill to stop surprise, out-of-network medical billing.

Surprise billing is when an individual goes to an in-network health care provider for a service, but is unknowingly seen by an out-of-network physician. The patient is then left with an expensive medical bill not covered by insurance. Surprise billing can happen for a number of reasons, for example, a person could have a surgical procedure with a surgeon covered by insurance, but another medical provider such as an anesthesiologist is out-of-network, unbeknownst to the patient. After the procedure, the patient has to pay an unexpected and high medical bill.

Unfortunately, approximately 8 percent of all emergency visits in Indiana result in surprise medical billing. Across the nation, 50 percent of all emergency ambulance rides result in surprise medical billing.

Proposed legislation would prohibit health care providers from billing in-network patients for amounts exceeding in-network rates. Patients would still be responsible for paying deductibles, copayments and coinsurance amounts, and would continue to have the option to receive services from out-of-network providers.

House Bill 1004 passed out of the House unanimously and is now being considered by the Senate. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.

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