Indiana General Assembly approaches final weeks of session
As the Indiana General Assembly approaches the final weeks of the 2019 session, state lawmakers are working diligently to approve a state budget by the deadline of April 29.
The 2019 “long session” has focused primarily on teacher pay, school safety, workforce development, hate crimes legislation, and state spending for the next two years. Additional priorities of the Republican supermajorities include increased funding for K-12 education, reforming the Indiana Department of Child Services, and implementing community-based services to engage at-risk expecting mothers by offering early prenatal care to reduce infant mortality.
After weeks of lawmakers warning Hoosiers that the state budget was going to be particularly challenging, Governor Holcomb’s budget proved to be tight but not to the degree initially expected. According to budget projections, the State is expected to have enough money to fund all its top priorities without any major cuts. This proves challenging for an increase in Indiana’s cigarette tax, which was not included in the House version of the state biennial budget due to these projections. The upcoming April revenue forecast will be a key milestone that will ultimately determine priorities and revenue needs for the final iteration of the next biennial state budget, including any opportunity for a cigarette tax increase and HAF relief for Indiana hospitals.
Overall, the 2019 legislative session has been productive for the Indiana Hospital Association and its members on many fronts. IHA was successful in moving member priority legislation forward as well as fighting off various costly and burdensome bills proposed earlier in the session. IHA’s conversations with lawmakers focused on key issues impacting hospitals, including the need to address eligibility and denials of claims in the Medicaid managed care environment, protecting providers from INSPECT criminal penalties, studying the topic of hospital licensure, and advancing legislation to allow Indiana to join the Nurse Licensure Compact. While these bills have not yet passed into law, IHA remains optimistic that they will continue through the process.
In total, the Indiana General Assembly saw 1,348 bills introduced in 2019. The House introduced 709 bills, and the Senate introduced 639 bills. By the halfway point, only 201 House bills and 218 Senate bills remained. IHA continues to monitor these issues closely and will keep members apprised of new developments that could have a direct impact Indiana’s hospital industry in the final weeks of session. IHA thanks our members who took the time this session to advocate with their legislators for policies that strengthen hospitals and protect patients.