A proposed new grant fund would try to make Indiana healthier from the ground up.
The “IN It for Health” program is modeled on a grant fund created six years ago to help local groups attack infant mortality. This program would broaden that focus to smoking, obesity, cancer screenings and diabetes — all areas in which Indiana ranks in the bottom half of the 50 states, and in the bottom 10 in many cases.
Marion Representative Ann Vermilion (R), a former administrator at Marion General Hospital, says the fund would enlist local stakeholders to work together to identify the most pressing health issue in their community, and adopt programs which have been shown to work elsewhere.
Indiana Hospital Association vice president Karen Kennedy says Indiana’s poor health behaviors ratchet up health care costs and damage worker productivity. And she says the coronavirus pandemic has underscored an even greater cost: people who smoke or are obese are more at risk for more serious health effects. if they catch the virus.
The House Public Health Committee has unanimously endorsed the fund. It faces one more vote before going to the House floor in the Ways and Means Committee, which will also decide how much money to propose for the fund. Public Health Chairman Brad Barrett (R-Richmond) says he hopes it will be “significant.”