The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana formed last year; it includes health care professionals, advocates, and community and business leaders from across the state who are committed to improving the health of citizens.
The Indiana Chamber is among the four founding organizations; the others are the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana State Medical Association and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. The group’s chairman is Bryan Mills, CEO of Community Health Network.
The group came together to jointly pursue public policy measures in several critical areas of need. Indiana ranks at the bottom in many important health metrics including tobacco use, obesity, infant mortality and opioid abuse – and these are just a few critical examples. Our progress toward improvement is impeded by Indiana’s low public health spending per capita.
This contributes to higher health care spending, challenges for employers who want to provide health insurance, premature deaths, poor work and school attendance, and perpetuation of poverty. Our terrible health measures create a negative image for Indiana, making it more difficult to recruit new businesses and professionals looking for a healthy place to live, work and raise a family.
The Alliance will ultimately tackle public health issues such as obesity, infant mortality and opioid abuse. But the first priority is to substantially reduce tobacco usage, which is the leading cause of preventable death in Indiana. The severity of the problem was reinforced just this week during a presentation to the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee by Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana’s state health commissioner. He emphatically said: “The number one issue that the Legislature could address is smoking.“