Several of Indiana’s top health care organizations are joining forces to combat what they call the state’s “embarrassing” and “shameful” health record.
Indiana ranks 9th worst in the country for overall health issues. Community Health Network CEO Bryan Mills says Indiana’s health problems can’t be ignored.
“If you look at the healthiness of our state as compared to other states, unfortunately it’s embarrassing,” Mills says. “And it’s embarrassing year after year, after year.”
Indiana Hospital Association President Doug Leonard says the state can’t accept the status quo.
“We are in a shameful position and I think in Indiana, as citizens, we’ve just come to shrug it off and accept, well, that’s Indiana,” Leonard says.
To address that issue, the Indiana State Medical Association, the Indiana Hospital Association, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana, Community Health Network and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana.
Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar says the Alliance can be more influential than any one organization.
“It’s much harder to ignore all these organizations including the insurers – I mean, these groups don’t agree on every health care-related policy that gets proposed,” Brinegar says.
The Alliance’s 2017 legislative priorities include increasing the cigarette tax and raising the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. State Medical Association Vice President Julie Reed says the problem is enormous.
“Tobacco costs Indiana $6 billion annually when you take into account health care costs and lost productivity,” Reed says.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana President Rob Hillman says the Alliance aims to deliver steady progress:
“I would say if Indiana were a patient, we would say that she is in critical condition. And so the time for action is now,” Hillman says.
The legislative session begins in January.