House lawmakers accepted minor changes to their inflation relief and social services bill, tweaking programs designed to accommodate an anticipated increase in demand for government support following the anticipated passage of an abortion ban.
House Bill 1001 includes millions in tax credits for families adopting children, repeals the state’s sales tax on children’s diapers and creates a second $225 refund for taxpayers due to the state’s large surplus.
Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, authored the bill.
Republicans offered 14 amendments, incorporating five of those proposals into the bill.
Negele’s amendment would allow women on Medicaid to receive a long-acting reversible contraceptive while at a hospital following childbirth. According to state rules, mothers must return for a separate visit to receive the device.
“We’re just trying to make it easier,” Negele said.
Republicans accepted her amendment as well as amendments that would bar funding contraceptives for minors without consent from their parents and creating posters in the state’s 124 BMV locations directing Hoosiers to the state website for information on pregnancy, foster care and adoption.
Rep. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, voluntarily withdrew her amendment to allow health departments to prescribe and distribute hormonal contraceptives at a low cost or for free. She said the issue needed to be addressed but could wait until the January session.
“Every year, over 100,000 women are facing unwanted or unexpected pregnancies,” Vermilion said, noting that many sought abortions. “The strongest avenue to reduce unwanted pregnancies is through access to affordable birth control.”
Democrat amendments offered, some accepted
Legislators filed over 60 amendments to HB 1001, most from Democrats. Republicans, who have a supermajority, rejected calls to expand funding for before-and-after programs, paid family leave and doulas.
Republicans voted to accept an amendment from Rep. Cherish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, which would establish a board to review and recommend the reimbursement rate for doulas.
Other Democratic amendments Negele said she’d pursue in the January session.
Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, proposed expanding the analysis of the statewide maternal mortality review committee to include stories from parents and Native Americans. The legislation would have determined whether the committee’s recommendations led to “meaningful reforms.”
“This bill is narrowly focused on programs that are already established and funding them,” Negele said. “But I do promise to continue working on this with Rep. Summers.”
Both Negele and Summers are members of the Maternal Health Caucus. Negele repeated her promise to work on other maternal health items in January for implicit bias training for healthcare workers and pregnancy accommodations, the latter of which the House chamber has repeatedly rejected in the past.
Republicans outright rejected other Democratic amendments, saying additional study was needed for issues related to maternal mortality.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, called for investing money in addressing the state’s “horrendous” maternal mortality rate, which ranks third-highest in the country. America has one of the worst maternal mortality rates of the developed world.
“How much more do we need to study while women die?” Porter asked. “These healthcare disparities are real.”
The bill moves to a final vote, expected Friday, before transferring to the Senate for debate. Senators previously indicated their lack of enthusiasm for an automatic taxpayer refund, touting their own proposal for using the state’s $6.1 million in combined reserve accounts.