Garcia Wilburn files 2023 bills

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Freshman legislator State Rep. Victoria Garcia Wilburn (D-Fishers) has filed four pieces of legislation designed to impact Hoosiers across the state.

House Bill 1319 allows occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists who practice in a federally designated shortage area to now be eligible for the Indiana State Loan Repayment Program. This legislation is estimated to increase the pool of potential recipients by about 16,400 and encourage health professionals to practice in shortage areas.

House Bill 1320 is designed to expand the number of occupational therapists able to participate in community care for those with mental illness.

“These two bills enable critical steps to be taken to address the challenges mental health poses across the state,” Garcia Wilburn said. “We need to be exploring creative options in our state to recruit and retain all healthcare professionals. Our Allied Health Professionals have not been a priority area and these bills not only provide aid to current professionals but future generations of healthcare professionals.”

House Bill 1321 will require the basic training of police officers to include programs addressing their personal mental health and wellness and suicide prevention.

“Having come from a police family, with my husband serving over a decade in law enforcement, educating our officers and administrators in the importance of police mental health and suicide prevention is much needed,” Garcia Wilburn said. “Police officer suicide rates are nearing historic highs, and this is one way Indiana can demonstrate its leadership by ensuring our law enforcement officials have the knowledge and resources necessary to receive the critical help they need in their time on the force.”

House Bill 1322 places a cap on the student-to-therapist ratio if the school employs an occupational therapist or physical therapist for students with disabilities. This legislation would limit the ratio to fifty students for every therapist.

“Special education has long been ignored in Indiana, and related services are vital in providing care to students,” Garcia Wilburn said. “Ensuring our youth receive the client centered care they deserve means establishing safeguards for professionals that provide related services, so they are not overburdened in their caseload. Right now, caseloads can be in the hundreds, directly limiting the quality-of-care students receive.

“In order to improve the lives of Hoosiers, actions must be taken, and these bills are a step in the right direction. I look forward to seeing how my legislation proceeds and hope that they will receive consideration by both my colleagues in the Democratic party and across the aisle.”

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