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Committee makes final recommendations to address Indiana’s high health care costs

By Abigail Ruhman, IPB News | Published on in Business, Government, Health, Politics
The committee recommendations include standardizing prior authorization, increasing transparency for health care mergers, and addressing practices that drive higher costs. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

A committee of state lawmakers unanimously agreed on seven recommendations to address Indiana’s high health care costs. The final report by the Health Care Cost Oversight Task Force covers a wide range of policy topics, but the recommendations focus on increased transparency across the health care industry.

The recommendations include standardizing prior authorization, increasing transparency for health care mergers, and addressing practices that drive higher costs.

Sen. Chris Garten (R-Charlestown), the chair of the committee, said the recommendations for the upcoming legislative session are a collaborative effort among lawmakers and the health care industry.

“No matter which group suggested a given idea or what ultimately made it into the final report recommendations,” Garten said. “Everything we’re talking about is focused squarely on driving down costs for Hoosiers.”

One recommendation would require larger health care entities to notify the General Assembly six months before a merger or acquisition.

A member of the committee raised concerns about the sensitive nature of these deals. But Garten said experts identified limited competition in Indiana’s health care space that needs to be addressed.

“With regards to mergers, there are some sensitive business dealings within those, but I don’t think they’re so sensitive that we shouldn’t consider notification in that space,” Garten said.

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The final report followed testimony by dozens of people including providers, policy experts, employers and representatives from different parts of the health care industry.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), a member of the committee, said she would have liked to hear more from some of the major players in Indiana’s health care space.

“I feel that we’ve been siloed in some effects and that we have not heard at all from the major health insurers in the state of Indiana,” Breaux said.

Garten said the committee heard from a representative of the Insurance Institute of Indiana, but Breaux was not the only lawmaker to notice the absence of the insurance side of the industry.

Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at aruhman@wboi.org.