2022 Session Reaches Half-Way Point
statehouse675.pngThe 2022 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly convened on January 4. House and Senate leaders released their respective legislative agendas, and bills have been moving quickly through the process. The IHA government relations team is working closely with legislators and stakeholders to effectively represent the interests of hospitals​. 

The Senate Republicans' agenda includes three priorities for the legislative session, as follows: 

  • Making more Hoosiers eligible for the automatic taxpayer refund;
  • Providing school funding stability for quarantined students; and
  • Responsibly ending Indiana's public health emergency. 

Senator Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) has filed Senate Bill (SB) 3 to address the responsible ending of the public health emergency, which currently includes the three items originally outlined by Governor Holcomb. IHA is working closely with the Senator to ensure needed provisions are included in the legislation so hospitals will not lose necessary flexibilities to address COVID-19 in the event that the public health emergency is ended. 

The House Republicans' agenda includes four priorities for the legislative session, as follows:

  • Legislating COVID-19 exemptions and ending Indiana's public health emergency;
  • Reducing Indiana's income and business personal property tax rates; 
  • Addressing the state's health care workforce shortage by supporting Hoosier nurses; and 
  • Boosting local public safety efforts. 

House Bill (HB) 1003, filed by Representative Manning (R-Denver) addresses the House Republicans' efforts to support Hoosier nurses and grow the nurse workforce pipeline. IHA worked closely with Rep. Manning to develop this legislation, which has been titled “Nursing Indiana Back to Health". 

In even-numbered years, the General Assembly has a “short session," which means no budget is considered and the legislature meets for only 10 weeks. Given the limited timeframe, business will be conducted quickly this session in the Statehouse.

With the first half of session nearly concluded, the second half of session will begin Monday, Feb. 7. The second half is similar to the first half in process, but less than half of the bills that were filed at the beginning of session will still be considered. Each remaining bill must go through the opposite chamber's committee hearing process, then any necessary amendments will be added during second reading in the full chamber, followed by a full chamber vote on third reading.

Following this process, surviving bills will go different routes. A bill may be eligible for a concurrence, meaning that the originating chamber agrees with the second chamber's changes and votes one final time for passage. If the originating chamber disagrees with the second chamber's changes to the bill language, then a conference committee is convened to work through the differences. Typically, the differences will be resolved, and the bill will receive a final vote. Some bills, however, will die in conference committee. When a bill receives a concurrence or makes it out of the conference committee, once it receives a final vote in the House and Senate it will proceed to the Governor's desk for consideration.

Below is a list of bills the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) considers​​ priority legislation this session:

Patient Safety in Specialty Drug Administration (HB 1158)

  • In 2021, the legislature passed HEA 1405, which directed the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) to report on the practice of “white bagging" and detail best practices regarding specialty drug administration.
  • White bagging became a hot topic during the 2021 session following a change in insurance company policies requiring hospitals to acquire specialty drugs from insurance company-owned pharmacies.
  • The policy change continues to cause delays in inpatient care due to delivery issues and incorrect drug dosages, among other concerns.
  • Further, patients with advanced and complex illnesses have not been able to receive treatment timely due to these delays.
  • IDOH released the statutorily required report in July, which concludes that, while white bagging is acceptable in certain contexts, oversight and application of best practices are necessary to ensure patient safety. Additionally, the report concludes that there are circumstances in which white bagging should not be used because it jeopardizes patient health.
  • The members of the Hoosiers for Safe Meds Coalition, including IHA, have since translated the report's conclusions into a bill draft that prioritizes patient safety.
  • The proposed legislation requires the Indiana Board of Pharmacy to promulgate rules defining the appropriate use of white bagging in specialty drug administration and sets guardrails to protect patient safety and pharmacist integrity.
  • Hospitals urge the adoption of this legislation to ensure patients receive the care they need when they need it, without unnecessary, life-threatening delays.

Support for Indiana's Health Care Workforce (HB 1003, SB 5, SB 251)

  • For the past 22 months, Indiana's health care workforce has faced unprecedented challenges caring for Hoosiers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The pandemic has taken its toll on Indiana's workforce, and especially on nurses, which has led to burnout and an ongoing exodus of workers from the health care industry.
  • The Governor's public health emergency (PHE) provided some needed flexibility for nurses and other health care professionals to care for patients more effectively, but, without action, those flexibilities will end when the PHE ends.
  • Although the immediate nursing shortage is a pressing concern, of equal concern is the lack of future nurses in the workforce pipeline due to a shortage of educators and educational opportunities.
  • To address these concerns, IHA proposes a multi-pronged approach to Nurse Indiana Back to Health:
    • Provide student loan repayment for nurses who continue to practice in Indiana, via a program funded through nurse licensure fees.
    • Increase the pathways for foreign-educated nurses to become licensed in Indiana. 
    • Expand the nursing student pipeline by increasing available nursing preceptors through streamlined preceptor qualification requirements.
    • Improve adjunct to full-time faculty ratios to increase the number of instructors available to teach future nurses.
    • Increase the number of clinical hours that may be conducted via simulation to provide greater flexibility to nursing programs.
    • Implement license reciprocity and licensure compacts for health care professions to allow more nurses and other providers to practice in Indiana.​

Parity in Health Care Transparency (HB 1046, SB 249)

  • Over the past several legislative sessions, hospitals have engaged in numerous transparency measures to ensure that patients have as much information about the cost of their health care as hospitals can provide.
  • These measures include the forthcoming All-Payer Claims Database, posting price information on hospital websites (all available on mycareINsight.org), good faith estimates, and public forums by not-for-profit hospitals.
  • Despite the transparency measures hospitals have undertaken, Hoosiers still lack clarity about the cost of their health care due to insufficient information sharing from other members of the health care industry, including insurance providers and pharmacy benefit managers.
  • To continue improving Indiana's health care costs through full transparency, health insurance providers should also provide additional cost information to the public.
  • For example, requiring health insurance companies to provide the reasoning behind premium increases over 5% will help individual Hoosiers and employers better understand the drivers of cost year over year.
  • While this information alone will not provide the full picture of health care costs, it is one step toward insurance companies achieving transparency parity with hospitals to allow transparency initiatives to drive market forces and help lower the cost of healthcare in Indiana.​

To track these bills are others as they continue through the legislative process, click here.