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Chronic Eye Disease, Vision Services and Opioid Treatment Medication Discussed at Today’s Interim Study Committee

Today was the first of several meetings for the Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Interim Study Committee, assembled to discuss a number of topics including Chronic Eye Disease, Vision Services and Opioid Treatment Medication.

Chronic Eye Disease

Children and Adults alike are affected by chronic eye disease throughout the Hoosier state.  Little has been done to assist the numerous amount of visually impaired children struggling with development.

The Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Interim Study Committee was assembled to consider public policy that would assist individuals with chronic eye disease – such as glaucoma –  in removing barriers to long term access to effective treatment therapies according to House Resolution 69.

A topic of discussion centered on the ability for individuals to refill prescriptions to certain eye drops used to treat glaucoma before the standard 30-day refill (“early refill”). Testimony indicated that many individuals with glaucoma use more than one drop per day and oftentimes need to refill the prescription before the standard 30-day refill date.

Many expert witnesses were called to speak on the topic of visual impairments and what can be done to improve the treatment and education of children who are visually impaired.

In addition, those that testified indicated that it may be a good policy to allow school age children with chronic eye diseases to fill multiple prescriptions at one time so they could have one prescription at home, as well as a prescription available at school.

Vision Services

Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) is a nonprofit organization based in Indiana and Kentucky and sent representatives to the study committee meeting today to express how Indiana can improve on its current policies and programs regarding education to the visually impaired and the parents of visually impaired children.

VIPS representatives explained the struggle parents face with providing care for their visually impaired children and suggested a collaboration with Indiana based First Steps Vision Services to improve access to therapy and treatment for visually impaired Hoosier children ages three and under.

Early intervention therapy has been shown to improve a child’s chance of overcoming developmental delays caused by visual impairments.  These programs can maximize a child’s ability to live independently and contribute to society.

State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said, “I hope the discussion we had today will lead to legislation that will provide resources to families with visually impaired children.”

Opioid Treatment Medication

Testimony was heard regarding opioid treatment programs and the regulations pertaining to giving patients multiple-day supplies of medications to take home in order to treat their conditions.

Opioid treatment programs provide medication assisted treatment to persons seeking to recover from opiate addiction. In 2013 there were over 10,000 patients treated for opioid addiction in Indiana.  In addition to counseling services, patients are treated with medications such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Suboxone.

House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1218 prohibits an opioid treatment program from prescribing, dispensing, or providing more than a seven day supply of opioid treatment medication to a patient to take out of the facility.

While patients are often administered these medications while supervised at a clinic, some patients are able to take home 7-day supplies of these medications so they do not have to travel to and from the clinic on a daily basis.

Opioid treatment programs set forth compliance regulations for patients to qualify to take home these medications to treat their opiate addiction. Testimony from mental health professionals stated that the take home medication policies are generally effective in treating the patients’ opiate addiction.

The ability for patients to take home these medications make treating their addiction more convenient since they do not have to visit the treatment facilities on a daily basis.

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2014 Indiana State Fair: “A Time to Celebrate”

Every year the fair brings together a variety of people from all walks of life in Indiana.  This year is “A Time to Celebrate” at the Indiana State Fair with the grand re-opening of the coliseum.   The coliseum is a historically rich building built in 1939 and host to everyone from President John F. Kennedy to the Indiana Pacers and the Beatles.

Summer of 2014 will be filled with many events happening in the newly-renovated coliseum including 4-H competitions and national touring concert acts.

The Indiana State Fair runs from August 1 – 17 and is open to all ages.  Check out the Indiana State Fair website for information on discounts and special events.

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Click here to check out a video about the coliseum renovations.  

Whether it be riding the rides at the midway, eating elephant ears, or seeing the world’s largest boar – some of our fondest childhood memories involve the Indiana State Fair.

We asked a few of the Senate Democrat Caucus staff members what they were looking forward to at this year’s Indiana State Fair, and this is what they had to say:

“I look forward to the fried Wisconsin Cheese vendor and then watch the Clydesdales driver teams, the Percheron Mare team cart.  Look forward to seeing the work done on the Coliseum.” –Donna

“I’m looking forward to the new craft beer options at the fair.  It’s a great way to showcase Indiana’s producers and introduce Hoosiers to new tastes.” –Adam

“The over-abundance of fried creations every year would definitely be up there on my list.” –Andrew

“Lemon shake-ups and the world’s biggest pig!” –Susan

“I like the 4-H horse and pony shows.” –Michelle 

“Elephant ears, Sutter’s salt water taffy, fish in the Natural Resources Building, riding the tractor train or walking the loop around to the other side.” – Emma

“The world’s biggest HOG!!! And that’s my favorite too, along with the winning hog litter.  I love the pioneer village too.  As for food, corn on the cob and caramel corn!” –Laura

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For more information on the Indiana State Fair go to www.in.gov/statefair/fair/

 

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Lanane on HIP restrictions: Once again, too many Hoosiers left behind

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) issued the following statement in response to an announcement from the state’s Family and Social Services Agency (FSSA) that the governor’s existing Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) is no longer accepting new enrollees.

“Once again we see how the governor’s reluctance to expand Medicaid has become a disservice to Hoosier families.

“For years, the Senate Democrats have been pushing for a plan to expand health care to over 400,000 working Hoosiers.

“If we had just put a plan into place sooner, we could have avoided these restrictions which now block the already limited number of HIP enrollees from the important health care access they need.

“I appreciate the governor’s recent commitment to working with the federal government on his new proposal, but once again, his indecision on how to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act has left too many Hoosiers behind.”

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Special Group plates hot topic in Roads and Transportation Study Committee

An interim study committee met today at the Indiana Statehouse to discuss topics related to roads and transportation.  Amongst the legislators involved in the committee were Democrat Senators Arnold and Breaux.

The session began with a discussion and vote on specialty group license plate applicants.  Applications from various specialty groups were put through a rigorous selection process before heading to the legislature.  The top five license plates selected by the committee will be included in next year’s cycle at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

In 2013, House Enrolled Act 1279 created the special group recognition license plate committee consisting of eight members of the general assembly, and specified that the primary purpose of the committee is to make recommendations to the BMV regarding special group recognition license plates.

The Roads and Transportation Study Committee voted unanimously to send the Lincoln Boyhood Home and 500 Festival specialty group license plates to the BMV for final approval.  They will convene again in September hear annual reports from transportation agencies and in October to review renewal applications for specialty license plates.

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Unemployment Rates Rise In June

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced Indiana’s June unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in June.

National unemployment rates have risen to 6.1 percent with Indiana below the national average at 5.9 percent in June of 2014.  This is a jump from the previous reports that stated Indiana’s unemployment rate at 5.7 percent in May of 2014.  Illinois and Kentucky have reported a decrease in unemployment with Illinois at 7.1 percent – down from 7.5 percent in May.  Kentucky decreased to 7.4 percent – previously at 7.7 percent.  Michigan and Ohio maintained their respective rates at 7.5 and 5.5 percent.

County with the highest unemployment rate: Vermillion at 8.8%
County with the lowest unemployment rate: Dubois at 4.3%

Employment Report (LAUS)

Jobs Report (CES)

 

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2014 Interim Study Committee topics

Every summer the Indiana General Assembly constructs study committees and commissions to explore a variety of topics concerning the bills and laws from the past session. The recommendations from these studies are likely to be a blue print for bills proposed in the upcoming session. Committees are made up of members from the General Assembly and serve as one-half of its voting membership.

The following is a list of the interim study committees and commissions as well as the topics they are assigned:

Interim Study Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources

  •  A statewide policy for recreational trails and the maintenance of recreational trails.
  •  A method to distribute money deposited into the recreational trail and maintenance fund.
  •  Regulation of shooting preserves
  •  The risk of disease from importing animals into Indiana for use in shooting preserves.

Interim Study Committee on Commerce & Economic Development

  • Examines the economic and workforce development impact of the medical device industry in Indiana.

Interim Study Committee on Corrections & Criminal Code

  • Criminal justice issues concerning individuals with autism spectrum disorders as well as juvenile justice issues.

Interim Study Committee on Courts & Judiciary

  • Issues with digital privacy such as: searches of electronic devices, disclosure of electronic user data, collection and use of geo-location information, and the collection and use of biometric information by government agencies.
  • Whether a defendant should be able to claim a nonparty defense in an Indiana statute grants the nonparty immunity from liability.
  • Whether a father that has abandoned a birth mother during pregnancy should be required to consent to the adoption of the child.
  • Review and report on all requests for new courts or changes in jurisdiction of existing courts.

Interim Study Committee on Education

  • Pre-kindergarten and early learning.
  •  Student discipline and the suspension, expulsion, or exclusion of a student from school.

Interim Study Committee on Employment & Labor

  •  Job sharing working conditions and benefits.

Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs

  • Statewide standards for sewage disposal systems, including septic tanks and related facilities and devices.
  • Sewage disposal systems using alternative technologies that off better performance than traditional sewage disposal systems.

Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy

  • Whether Indiana should implement a state-based health exchange, the current operation of the federal exchange in Indiana, the definition of “essential health benefits” for use in Indiana under the Affordable Care Act and access to consumer choice of health care providers.
  • A multi-year review, analysis, and evaluation of all tax incentives.
  • Comparison of the effectiveness of tax credits to the effectiveness of grant programs in encouraging the preservation and commercial redevelopment of historic properties.
  • The factors contributing to the shift of the local property tax burden.

Interim Study Committee on Government

  • Various topics concerning annexation.

Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight

  • Status of existing local government unit pension plans.
  • Review and report on all requests for changes in a public pension program.

Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, & Human Services

  • Implementation of a high-cost management program.
  • The integrity and security of the INSPECT program to insure it may be used for lawful purposes only.
  • Whether opioid treatment programs should be prohibited from allowing patients to take home a multiple day supply of opioid treatment medication.
  • Public policy that assists individuals with chronic eye disease in removing barriers to long-term access to effective treatment therapies.
  • Issues related to adding blindness and vision impairment services to the First Steps program.

Interim Study Committee on Public Policy

  • Societal impact of teenage pregnancy on education.
  • Competition and potential competition posed to existing casinos and racinos in Indiana as well as the comparative impact of potential changes in Indiana’s existing gaming laws on viability, patron admissions, and revenues of the existing casinos and racinos in Indiana.

Interim Study Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs

  • How transforming Indiana’s veterans benefits services can increase those benefits to veterans and beneficiaries in compensation and pensions, education, medical care, etc.
  • How Indiana compares to other states in each component of benefits, as reported annually by the Veterans Benefits Administration.
  • How Indiana’s structure of assisting beneficiaries in obtaining benefits and tools may be restructured.

Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation

  •  Advise the bureau of motor vehicles regarding the suitability of a special groups to have a special group recognition license plate.

 Interim Study Committee on Utilities, Energy, & Telecommunications

  • The findings presented by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in its most recent report to the legislative council and their recommendations.
  • Underground facilities and tolerance zones for interstate pipelines.
  • Service areas of electric utilities.

Commission on Business Personal Property & Business Taxation

  • Topics assigned by Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 1 and SEA 118 concerning taxation, redevelopment commissions, authorities, and departments.

Commission on Improving The Status of Children

  • Under-reporting of crimes against children, including the reasons for under-reporting.

 

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Lanane: How much of a surplus can Hoosiers afford?

INDIANAPOLIS— Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) issued the following statement in response to the fiscal year close-out numbers released today by the state auditor’s office.

“Today, the administration announced the state will have a combined balance of over $2 billion for this fiscal year, with a little higher surplus estimated for FY 2015. In order to help reach this magical two billion dollar number, the governor continues to order cuts from already lean state programs without regard for how they will impact citizens.

“Let’s not confuse the state of Indiana’s books with the state of the average Hoosier. It’s become abundantly clear that the state’s fiscal health has little to do with improving the well-being of the average Hoosier. Let’s look at some sad realities:

•           College is less affordable than ever for working families.

•           Our infant mortality rate is the 2nd worst in the country, and our overall health factors are ranked 41st in the nation.

•           Many of our public schools struggle to pay for basic services like transportation.

•           We remain one of the few states without a fully funded pre-kindergarten program.

•           The CHOICE program maintains a waiting list of over 3,000 people.

•           Unlike nearly every other state in the nation, families who adopt special needs children from the state don’t get help from the state for their care.

•           While the Republicans continue to lower taxes for businesses, the average Hoosier worker’s income goes down and their tax burden goes up.

“What’s the governor’s plan for the surplus? More tax breaks for businesses? Another $50 taxpayer refund? The governor has failed to provide a clear vision for how this surplus can benefit all Hoosiers.

“The bottom line should be about the overall well-being of Indiana’s citizens, not just money in the bank.  At a time when we should be investing in Indiana to improve the abysmal state of Hoosier’s incomes and health, we are hoarding hard-earned taxpayer’s dollars instead of returning it to them with meaningful programs and services. It seems we have our priorities wrong.

“Let’s not congratulate ourselves for hoarding tax dollars while so many of those taxpayers continue to struggle.”

Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 includes the portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the City of Muncie and portions of the City of Anderson. For more information on Sen. Lanane, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S25 .

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A photo of Sen. Tim Lanane can be downloaded at: http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_democrats/images/headshots/Lanane.JPG

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OPED by Sen. Breaux: Arlington students lose out amid takeover experiment

I am outraged. The takeover operators of Arlington High School with their plans for reform and restoration now require additional public funding of their operations to achieve the substantial claims touted during their 2012 takeover.

Tindley Accelerated Schools, formerly known as ED Power, realize that their business model for Arlington High School will not net them a ”return” without a significant infusion of additional public dollars.  Without such an infusion, they will have to walk-away and return Arlington High School and its approximately 400 students to IPS.

The students at Arlington High School are some of the most vulnerable in our state and in the greatest need of a solid, quality, intensive education that results in graduation.

Instead, they briefly participated in an “experiment” in which they were student test subjects.

The experiment has failed and the students are the losers – despite forecasted improvement in test scores. They lose the stability, the predictability and the reliability they need in their educational experience to succeed.

Now we face the possibility of closing a high school with a rich academic history, a prominent community marker that was once home to more than 1,400 students and is known for the education and graduation of outstanding community and accomplished leaders.

No one profited from this experiment. Not Tindley. Not Arlington. And most sadly of all, not the Golden Knights.

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Governor’s appointees jeopardize waiver approval

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement Wednesday regarding the State Board of Education’s resolution concerning the Indiana Department of Education’s flexibility waiver application.

“It is extremely disappointing and concerning that rather than working with the Superintendent, the Center for Education and Career Innovation and State Board of Education choose to put themselves at odds with her.

“It was exactly this kind of counter-productive competition for control of public education policy that I feared would occur when the governor announced the formation of his shadow education agency last year.

“Rather than supporting Superintendent Ritz’s attempts to receive federal approval of Indiana’s flexibility waiver submission, this action seems to take a combative, uncooperative tone, which I understand may actually threaten our state’s chances.

“Now is not the time for divisive action. Rather, it is time for the administration and the board to ask how it can assist in gaining the approval of our state’s waiver so that public education funding, and indeed the education of our children, are not placed in jeopardy.”

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Governor’s unnecessary order muddies waters on marriage ruling

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement Wednesday in response to a memo delivered from the governor’s chief counsel ordering state agencies not to recognize same sex marriage licenses recently issued.

“The governor’s interpretation of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ order is excessive and unnecessarily adds further confusion to this matter.

“This is an unfair move to couples who very well may be legally married according to the ruling and who in good faith relied on a court order that was valid at the time.

“Time after time, we have seen this governor and Statehouse Republicans take action to block same sex couples from any recognition of a valid marriage.

“I believe the governor has jumped to conclusions that don’t clearly come from the order of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and it is my hope that as this case continues to move its way through the judicial process, common sense and equality will prevail, giving all Hoosiers the equal rights they deserve.”