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Manning authors bill to boost rural health care access

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by State Rep. Ethan Manning

STATEHOUSE – State Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Logansport) is working to boost rural health care access by allowing local governments to direct existing income tax revenue to their county-owned hospitals.

Manning said he authored House Bill 1196 to begin the conversation about determining a minimum, acceptable level of health care services that should be available in each county, and providing the ability for communities to appropriate funding to make sure they are available and sustainable. Manning said currently basic services such as a 24/7 emergency rooms, emergency medical services, primary care providers and obstetric services are not available in every county in Indiana. Almost half of the counties in the state do not have obstetric services available.

“It’s important we keep more hospitals independent to provide competition in the marketplace, and locally owned hospitals are more responsive to their communities’ needs,” Manning said. “This would be totally voluntary and would depend on the county council directing any public safety income tax dollars to this purpose. I envision locally owned county hospitals approaching county elected officials with specific needs that would help keep particular service lines afloat, upgrade equipment or facilities that would provide better services, and increase patient volume.”

According to Manning, the bill also allows county councils or local income tax councils to adopt a LIT rate of up to .25% to direct funding to either a county-owned hospital or toward any critical access hospital as long as they provide emergency room, EMS, primary care or obstetric services. Manning said his proposal would only apply to counties with a population of less than 50,000.

Manning said the legislation would also create the Indiana Rural Hospital and Critical Services Fund, and lawmakers would look at ways to fund the grants during a summer study committee.

He said the proposal could also incentivize students to pursue degrees in the medical field by creating the Health Workforce Student Loan Repayment Program Fund that would be made available for medical providers who work in shortage areas. Manning said this would be funded by a small fee added to the license renewal fees of the professions who benefit from the program.

“Hospitals are the anchors of our communities,” Manning said. “Not only do they provide health care access, but they also supply hundreds of good paying, local jobs and investment that can be hard to come by in a smaller community. We need to save what access we have right now and make real plans to provide for more in the future.”

House Bill 1196 is assigned to the House Public Health Committee for consideration. Watch session and committees live, and view legislation at iga.in.gov.  

SOURCE: News release from State. Rep. Ethan Manning

State Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Logansport) represents House District 23, which includes portions of Cass and Miami counties.