The second meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Public Health was held recently. Committee members first heard testimony regarding a multi-state nurse licensure compact, which would allow nurses to practice in different states without obtaining another license. Kentucky is the only border state that is a member of the compact. If legislation is passed in Indiana to participate in the compact, the adoption of any rules by the commission for the compact would be binding on Indiana. The attorney general’s office addressed legal concerns for the compact. The Public Health Committee voted to not recommend the adoption of a multi-state nurse license compact by a 14-0 vote.
The committee also entertained discussion about forgiveness of student loans for dentists and dental hygienists accepting Medicaid reimbursement. The IU School of Dentistry provided information on the debt burden of both resident and non-resident IU dental grads. The combined average debt is a little more than $189,000 upon graduation. In addition, only 16 of Indiana’s 92 counties had an adequate supply of dentists to service Indiana Medicaid patients – suggesting that significant gaps may exist in Indiana’s oral health care safety net for both urban and rural communities. A loan forgiveness program was proposed that would support six to eight dentists and two to three dental hygienists in high need Medicaid areas by forgiving some of the debt if a four-year commitment was made. The program was approved by the committee unanimously.