Perhaps the most notable piece of legislation under consideration this interim will be Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. Per House Resolution 79, the Interim Study Committee on Courts and Judiciary will study the Act and “whether the cap on the damages should be increased and any potential changes or improvements to the medical review panel process that may improve and streamline the process.” During the 2015 session, IHA expressed its support for House Bill 1043, which would have increased the caps on damage awards in the interest of protecting the Act from various challenges. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee but did not advance further.
There are several other topics that are set to be studied throughout the summer interim. The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services will be discussing needle distribution and collection programs as part of a comprehensive response to reducing disease transmission due to intravenous drug use. The study must include a review of the appropriate criminal penalties for drug offenses and drug paraphernalia-related offenses and the use of problem-solving courts. (Source: SEA 461-2015). They will also be looking at the report of the Department of Insurance required by HEA 1269-2015 SECTION 31, which covers IDOI’s consumer complaint process, current definitions in accident and sickness insurance policies and health maintenance organization contracts for “investigatory,” “experimental” or similar terms used for denials of claims and various other topics.
The Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will be looking at several issues related to adult and protective service laws, and the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy will be spending time discussing many issues regarding cigarettes and other tobacco-based products.
While not directly associated with any particular study committee, various reports scheduled to be prepared and released before the end of 2015 will be of great interest to IHA, and we plan to watch these closely. The reports will cover recommendations on changes in the preadmission screening process (PAS/PASRR), data on presumptive eligibility in HIP 2.0 and topics such as child abandonment and the feasibility of newborn safety incubators (so-called “baby boxes”).
In the midst of discussions surrounding child abandonment and the feasibility of newborn safety incubators, IHA and other potential stakeholders will be developing Hoosier Safe Haven, a campaign committed to raising awareness of Indiana’s Safe Haven Law to citizens across the state. The Safe Haven Law states that a parent, family member, friend, minister or priest, social worker or any other responsible adult can anonymously give up an unwanted infant to a hospital emergency room, EMS provider, fire station or police station in Indiana without fear of arrest or prosecution. Because Indiana’s Safe Haven Law was passed 14 years ago, IHA recognizes a lack of awareness and understanding of the law throughout the state. In response to this growing need for public awareness, IHA will work with members and partners to help educate Indiana residents on the importance of this law.
Read the full Legislative Session Report.