[r75] Legislation addresses local issues of health, supreme court leadership (4/19/2013)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Start Date: 4/19/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
We now stand in the finals weeks of session here at the Statehouse, and there has been a noticeable shift in the atmosphere. Conference committees, a committee of legislators appointed by the House of Representatives and Senate to come to a conclusion of amendments on a particular bill, have begun to meet. After a level of agreement has been reached, representatives will take the version of the bill back to their respective legislative body, and present to the General Assembly to concur or dissent. With this new level of finality, you will begin to see a noticeable amount of legislation being signed by the governor and enacted into law. 


Two notable bills that I have authored and sponsored have gone to conference committee. Senate Bill (SB) 554 and House Bill (HB) 1061 are two bills addressing local issues for us in Southwest Indiana. SB 554 addressing improved convenience in healthcare through telehealth and telemedicine services, while HB 1061 speaks to issues in my home district of Warrick County with the Warrick County circuit and superior courts. 


As a healthcare professional, I believe that the topic of telehealth and telemed will revolutionize the way that medicine is practiced. Through enacting SB 554, authored by my fellow state legislator Sen. Veneta Becker (R-Evansville), Hoosier taxpayers would save millions of dollars each year under Medicaid. 


Telehealth refers to patient monitoring that occurs in the home by a health care provider from a distance. The shortage of physicians and psychiatrists is a limiting factor on patients’ access to care, especially in rural areas like ours. Telehealth and telemedicine services allow physicians and psychiatrists to care for their patients without having those patients travel to receive them, or having physicians use precious time and money to visit the patients in their homes.


The bill will require the office of Medicaid Policy and Planning to reimburse home health agencies, rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers for doing medical consultations, diagnoses and monitoring using videoconferencing, telephones or computers. 


There may be monitors that transmit blood pressure and other vital data in the home to the provider in a hospital. St. Francis Health has done this for a while and has noticed greater savings.  Specifically for congestive heart failure, there is normally a 1 in 4 readmittance rate.  With telehealth, there is a one in twenty readmittance rate. 


Reducing the readmission rate means that patients are having healthier outcomes, and are being done with lower costs. SB554 would allow providers to receive reimbursement, which would decrease health care costs by reducing hospital readmission rates.


House Bill 1061 allows the judges of the Warrick County circuit and superior courts to jointly appoint a magistrate. According to the 2010 census, the Warrick County population has grown by almost 10,000 people in past ten years, making it one of the fastest growing counties in Indiana. The attractiveness of our region has spurred economic development and consequently, more work for county judges. County judges will hold magistrates accountable for their work, creating a higher level of efficiency within the judicial system. 


Adding a new magistrate will also assist with the increased workload of the judges.  This legislation will streamline the county’s court system and ease some of the burden that the county is currently facing by allowing for more reasonable hearing dates.  


Throughout the 2013 legislative session my thoughts are with the communities of Indiana and how I can help improve the lives of Hoosier families. These bills address key issues within District 75, as well as across the state. As session begins to draw to a close I am proud of what has been accomplished and I look forward to working these next few weeks in committees to do what is best for Hoosiers. 


As always, feel free to connect with me on my website at www.in.gov/h75 or by phone at 317-232-9674. I look forward to continuing to support legislation that positively impacts Hoosiers in our state. 
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BLT - Warrick magistrate and Telehealth.docx