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February 2020

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.

Heads Up, Phone Down

Many have seen drivers swerve in and out of lanes, stall at green lights, or slam on their brakes due to their eyes being off the road or their hands being off the wheel. Proposed legislation would prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving, except when using hands-free technology like Bluetooth.

Under this proposal, Hoosier drivers would not be able to hold a cell phone or electronic communication device while driving. However, a motorist could still use a device to make calls in hands-free mode or in place of a GPS on the dash of their vehicle.

Each day, nine Americans are killed as a result of distracted driving. It is also one of the top killers of teenagers, responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes. There are 21 states with similar hands-free device driving laws.

Texting is by far the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes a person’s eyes off the road for five seconds and while travelling at 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field. Any non-driving activity engaged in while driving is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

While Indiana already prohibits texting while driving, it is difficult to enforce. This is a simple but effective way to strengthen the current law. It provides clarity for drivers, law enforcement and prosecutors.

Studies conclusively show how dangerous distracted driving is, yet drivers continue to use their devices, including scrolling through social media feeds and playing games, placing everyone in danger.

There will be a comprehensive and statewide educational campaign to inform Hoosiers about this proposed law, if it is enacted.

Click here to learn more about this bill.

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