State Rep. Rita Fleming provides update on legislation in 2019 session

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) continues to focus on legislation designed to improve health care for Hoosier women as the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly moves into its second month.

In her first session, Fleming has outlined an agenda that addresses maternal mortality and other women’s health issues before, during and after pregnancy.

House Bill 1383 would require drug treatment centers across Indiana to provide contraceptives to individuals receiving services.

“This is the most impactful, far-reaching bill I am offering this session,” Fleming said. “Women in the tenacious grip of drug addiction are often unable to follow traditional routes for obtaining reliable contraceptives. In my work as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, and obstetric hospitalist, I have seen the devastating consequences of this, including: stillbirths; significant maternal morbidity and mortality; and an increase in the number of children entering the foster care system. I believe this can be prevented by having readily available birth control on site where drug users are receiving treatment.”

House Bill 1382 would expand the scope of the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee to include a review of the costs of hospital care in mortality cases. The committee was formed to create a plan to reduce Indiana’s maternal mortality rate, which is nearly 41 deaths for every 100,000 women.

“Including a review of hospital costs will help us understand the burdens that are faced by families, as well as the taxpayers of our state,” said Fleming. “This expansion is supported by key players like Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box, and I am hopeful we can also gain support from lawmakers like State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove), chair of the House Public Health Committee.”

House Bill 1380 calls for a study of Medicaid reimbursement for tubal ligation or excision.

“Women who have achieved their desired family size may be denied a tubal ligation,” Fleming said. “Practitioners cite low reimbursements for the procedure, particularly in the postpartum (after-birth) period. This bill looks at reimbursement for the obstetrician, gynecologist and anesthesia provider.”

Fleming also is serving as co-author of several measures, one of which (House Bill 1246) contains a series of changes to state laws governing pharmacies. Those changes include easier transfers of prescription drugs if those items are not available at a pharmacy. Fleming said the proposal will provide greater quality control of automated dispensing systems of drugs in facilities like nursing homes.

House Bill 1073 would prohibit an employer from discriminating against a pregnant applicant or worker, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.

“A company that values women in the workforce should not discriminate against a pregnant woman during the hiring process and should meet the basic needs for a woman to be comfortable at work during her pregnancy,” Fleming said.  “These are temporary accommodations based on medical needs that should be standard practice in every work environment.”

House Bill 1376 would dedicate a portion of the sales taxes on sporting goods purchases to fund conservation efforts and maintenance of state-owned facilities like parks and historic sites.

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