Candelaria Reardon: Lawmakers to study plans to help seriously ill infants, children in Northwest Indiana
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) said lawmakers have agreed to study changes in state policy that will help secure quality medical treatment for seriously ill infants and children in Northwest Indiana.
Candelaria Reardon and other House and Senate leaders on the Legislative Council approved a request this week to have the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy investigate the means to remove financial barriers that presently prevent children in Northwest Indiana from receiving life-saving treatment through the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. The study, inspired by legislation that Candelaria Reardon co-authored during the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly, would take place this summer.
“For parents of sick premature babies in Northwest Indiana, Comer is the closest place to obtain Level IV neonatal care,” Candelaria Reardon said. “However, Comer has advised the state of Indiana that it may not be able to accept Hoosier children covered by Medicaid as patients if their reimbursement rates are not increased to match the rates that hospitals in Indiana presently receive.
“Without access to Comer, the only other option available to families is the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis,” she continued. “That is a three-hour drive from Northwest Indiana for treatment that often lasts longer than six months. Having to go to Riley for treatment only adds to burdens facing the child and the family that already are immense.”
House Bill 1238, the measure co-authored by Candelaria Reardon, would have created a fair and equitable reimbursement process that would have allowed the Chicago hospital to be paid the same as an Indiana provider. While the legislation sailed through the Indiana House without any problems, it ran into roadblocks in the state Senate, where there was opposition to the reimbursement process. Eventually, the bill stalled in a House-Senate conference committee after state senators removed the process from the bill.
“I know there are concerns that the situation faced by families in Northwest Indiana might be duplicated in other areas of the state, where the closest, most affordable options might come through an out-of-state hospital,” Candelaria Reardon said. “Therefore, those of us who worked on House Bill 1238 agreed that a study of Medicaid payments to out-of-state children’s hospitals was the next logical step.
“The most important thing here is that we do everything in our power to make sure that children get the life-saving treatment they deserve,” she noted. “I will keep a very close watch on this committee’s work in the months to come to make sure that worthy goal is achieved.”