STATEHOUSE (Jan. 15, 2019) – The House Public Health Committee on Wednesday is set to hear State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer’s (R-Beech Grove) legislation to help lower Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.
According to Kirchhofer, Indiana’s infant mortality rate is the seventh-highest in the nation. Because of this, she worked with the governor’s office and authored legislation to help engage more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care. Under this proposal, medical providers would verbally check for signs of substance abuse in pregnant women. Kirchhofer said taking these steps would better connect women with high-risk pregnancies to critical medical resources before, during and after giving birth.
“In many cases, babies are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, indicating the mother used drugs or consumed alcohol during her pregnancy,” Kirchhofer said. “These screenings are critical to ensure these women have access to substance abuse treatment programs as early as possible.”
Additionally, this proposal would establish a perinatal navigator pilot program, which would help expectant mothers receive prenatal care sooner and provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in local communities. The pilot program would be established in the 13 highest-risk counties, including Marion County.
Kirchhofer said this bill builds off previous legislative efforts, including Safety PIN (protecting Indiana’s newborns), a competitive grant available to health departments and other health care related entities, or nonprofit organizations working to develop and implement services focused on addressing infant mortality within the state.
“Despite past efforts, Indiana’s infant mortality rate remains stubbornly high,” Kirchhofer said. “By working to provide vital medical resources to mothers most in need, it is my hope that this proposal helps more Hoosier babies live to see their first birthday.”
The House Public Health Committee will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, in the House Chamber. House Bill 1007 is eligible for public testimony and committee amendments. Visit iga.in.gov to watch the committee hearing live and learn more about this legislation.
State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) represents House District 89,
which includes portions of Marion County.
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