For immediate release:
March 2, 2015
STATEHOUSE - Co-authored by State Rep. Christina Hale (D-Indianapolis), two health initiatives to reduce Indiana’s infant mortality rate and Medicaid fraud have both gained the Indiana House’s approval. A third initiative encouraging regional economic development was also passed. The bills now move to the Indiana Senate.
HB 1004 establishes the Safety PIN (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program & Fund. The Indiana State Department of Health will administer the program to combat the state’s high infant mortality rate.
“Indiana has the 3rd worst infant mortality rate in the nation at 7.7 deaths per 1,000 births,” noted Hale. “This shocking statistic recognizes our state as the 47th worst state for infant vitality. Adding to the disconcertion, expectant mothers receiving prenatal care in the 1st trimester of pregnancy have recently decreased by nearly 10 percent.”
The Safety PIN program focuses on improving access to prenatal care through outreach and follow-up services. Additional goals include incentivizing at-risk women to obtain prenatal care and decreasing smoking rates among pregnant women.
“Many Hoosier women do not receive adequate prenatal care,” said Hale. “The Safety PIN program is a major step in providing women and their babies with much needed healthcare resources. I’m happy to say: more babies being born in Indiana will have a chance at a healthy life because of this legislation.”
HB 1401 expands criminal Medicaid fraud to include knowingly making a claim that is false or misleading in any way.
“All too often, medical providers are stealing from the state by billing for services that were never rendered,” explained Hale. “These practices take money from the pockets of good, wage-earning taxpayers. We want to make sure that the people who truly need Medicaid assistance can get that help. Putting an end to this kind of fraud supports taxpayers and the people who rely on these services.”
A Class A misdemeanor is committed if the fabricated claim’s value is less than $750. Fraud between $750 and $50,000 is a Level 6 felony, which is punishable by up to 30 months in prison. A Level 5 felony is committed regarding fraudulent claims greater than $50,000. The charge is punishable by up to six years in prison.
The Indiana Regional City Fund is established by HB 1403, which provides grants and loans to regional development authorities. The bill broadens the definition of "project" to include any regional enhancement to attract people or business.
“It's critical that we recognize the changing nature of economic development,” said Hale. “We must move away from a low-cost, deal-based strategy towards a more holistic approach that recognizes the inseparability of economic and workforce development.
“It's time to double down on the issues and opportunities in our state that have the best chance of significant and positive outcomes for our state's future,” she added.
Rep. Hale shares her thoughts on growing good-paying jobs for Hoosiers in this 43-second mp3 clip.