Porter urges governor to give $30 million in excess TMSA fund to local health departments on the frontline of COVID-19 pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) today urged Governor Holcomb to immediately allocate the $30 million in the excess State Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (TMSA) reserves to every local health department in the state. 

“This TMSA reserve exists for emergency purposes, and helping Hoosiers through the COVID-19 pandemic is most definitely an emergency,” said Porter. “The governor needs to immediately allocate this $30 million to our state’s local health departments that need the funding to help care for Hoosiers during this public health emergency.”

Local health departments receive (approximately) a combined $7 million each year from the TMSA through two programs. The State Auditor already has the established accounts to make additional distributions to local health departments since it has been making these distributions for 20 years. 

“The $7 million local health departments receive equates to just a little over $1 in health funding per Hoosier,” Porter continued. “The governor should invest the TMSA dollars right now in these local health departments, so they are in a much better position to help with the ongoing efforts for testing and serve as a relief for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).” 

This lack of robust funding from the State for local health departments, aggravated by the impact of property tax caps, is precisely why Indiana has consistently been ranked as one of the states that invests the least in public health funding when it comes to per capita health expenditures. Local health departments have a wide local programmatic reach and, if funded sufficiently, could serve as a vital health extender resource for ISDH.

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