Gov. Holcomb unveils overwhelming county participation in historic public health initiative

    Mandatory Credit: Photo by Darron Cummings/AP/Shutterstock (11717541e) Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his State of the State address virtually, in Indianapolis State of the State, Indianapolis, United States - 19 Jan 2021

    86 of 92 counties opted in to receive new state funding to improve core public health services.

    INDIANAPOLIS—Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced 86 of Indiana’s 92 counties have opted-in to receive historic funding to improve the health of Hoosiers through local partnerships between public health, healthcare, nonprofits and other entities as a result of legislation passed in the 2023 legislative session. Gov. Holcomb made public health a main priority during his 2023 Next Level agenda.

    The overwhelming participation in the initiative known as Health First Indiana, which was made possible by passage of SEA 4 (2023) and HEA 1001 (2023), means that nearly 96 percent of Hoosiers will be guaranteed access to core public health services that will help address issues such as childhood lead poisoning, heart disease, tobacco cessation, obesity and maternal and infant mortality, and take additional steps to improve Indiana’s health outcomes.

    “From the beginning of the public health commission, we were committed not just to identifying problems, but to solving Indiana’s pressing health problems in a way that meets the unique needs of Hoosiers, regardless of where they live,” Gov. Holcomb said. ”Communities across the state are recognizing this 1500% increased state investment as a game-changer for Hoosiers not just today, but for generations to come.”

    Historically, Indiana’s 92 counties shared a pot of $6.9 million in public health funding annually from the state; under the new legislation, $75 million will be distributed to counties that opted-in beginning Jan. 1, 2024, and another $150 million will be allocated beginning in 2025. Counties that did not opt-in to the enhanced funding will have the opportunity to opt-in for 2025. Participating counties are working to finalize plans for the funding so they can formalize programming once the money is distributed.

    Gov. Holcomb, who launched efforts to improve the delivery of public health services in August 2021 with the formation of the Governor’s Public Health Commission, said the state investment will be life-changing for many Hoosiers. Recognizing that counties are best positioned to address the health needs of their communities, the Health First Indiana funding allows counties to create innovative solutions aimed at improving local health outcomes.

    State Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver, M.D., FACEP, is actively traveling the state to discuss the implementation of Health First Indiana and believes counties are embracing the opportunity to focus on preventing diseases and working with partners to improve the well-being of their communities.

    “In every community I visit, I hear about exciting new partnerships and programs that are breaking down silos and bringing public health, nonprofits, community groups and health care together to deliver local solutions to improve Hoosiers’ health,” Weaver said. “Good health is the foundation on which successful families, businesses and communities are built. By providing the financial resources and renewing the focus on prevention, Indiana is in the best position it has ever been to create the safest, healthiest state possible.”