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5/28 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

Thank you for letting us be your trusted source for local, state, and federal policy updates. Let’s dig in…

  • Indianapolis Lawmaker is Mike Braun’s Pick for Lieutenant Governor
  • Southern Indiana State Rep Announces Retirement
  • Lawmakers to Examine AI, Medicaid Costs and More Over Interim
  • Indiana Tax Changes Drive General Fund Expectation Miss
  • Indiana Hospital Prices Remain Among Highest in Nation, Report Says
  • Inflation Falls in April to 3.4 Percent, Reverses Trend
  • Childcare Costs More Than Rent, Indiana Among 11 States Feeling the Financial Burden
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

Indiana's New Diplomas Emphasize Flexibility for Older Students, But Some Requirements are Controversial


Indiana is proposing two diploma tracks that emphasize student choice and work-based learning.

Why it matters: The proposed changes have drawn concerns from educators who worry that the new requirements may not be the best track for all students. The heightened emphasis on work experience has raised questions about the balance between academics and career preparation.

The big picture: Indiana aims to prepare graduates for the workforce immediately after high school, especially as college-going rates stagnate. The state has rolled out Career Scholarship Accounts and career-focused graduation tracks to support this goal.

The bottom line: Some educators say it's too soon to change the diploma requirements again, and they urge policymakers to slow down. The state will accept feedback and host public comment periods before a final adoption of the requirements this fall. (Chalkbeat)

Guidance Updated on New Literacy Training Mandate Following Criticism from Indiana Teachers


Indiana officials have issued new guidance on the state's literacy licensure requirement, offering more flexibility and additional training options. Some educators have been exempted from the requirements if they don't teach literacy to students past fifth grade. The Indiana State Teachers Association praised the updated guidance and emphasized the importance of educator advocacy. Teachers must complete 80 hours of professional development on science of reading concepts and pass a written exam to renew their licenses. The training requirement was implemented to address declining literacy scores among students.

Why it matters: Addressing the literacy crisis in Indiana is crucial for the education system and the future success of students. Educators need flexibility and adequate support to improve literacy skills, and the new guidance aims to provide that. It is important for teachers to be properly trained in the science of reading to effectively teach students and improve literacy outcomes.

The big picture: Indiana's reading scores have been declining for over a decade, and one in five third graders lack foundational reading skills. The state's education department is investing over $170 million into literacy initiatives, including the Keys to Literacy training. The aim is to reverse the downward trend in literacy scores and ensure that all students have the necessary reading skills.

The bottom line: Teachers in Indiana now have more flexibility and additional options for meeting the literacy training requirements. The state is implementing changes based on feedback from educators to strike a balance between addressing the literacy crisis and providing flexibility. The training requirement is necessary to improve literacy outcomes and prepare students for academic success. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Department of Education Accepting Applications for Career Scholarship Account Program


The Indiana Department of Education is accepting applications for their Career Scholarship Account program. This program helps high school students obtain funding for work-based learning programs. Enrolled students can receive $5,000 annually for approved programs. The program aims to help students find their purpose and prepare for success after high school.

Why it matters: The Indiana Career Scholarship Account program removes financial barriers and provides opportunities for career coaching, postsecondary education, and certification. Students can gain valuable experiences and credentials that enhance their future prospects. (WIBC)

Medicaid Meeting Considers Progress, Concerns About Various Programs


Lawmakers in Indiana have expressed concerns about the upcoming changes to the state's Medicaid programs, including a program waitlist and the impact on families with disabled children. The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) recently hosted a meeting to discuss the Medicaid unwinding process and the switch to managed care for aging beneficiaries. The unwinding process involved redetermining Medicaid eligibility for 2.2 million enrollees, resulting in the removal of at least 241,000 Hoosiers from the program.

Why it matters: The changes to Indiana's Medicaid programs are important because they directly impact the lives of Hoosiers who rely on these services. Families with disabled children are facing reduced state payments and the transition to a lower-paying system. The implementation of a waitlist for certain services for aged and disabled Hoosiers has also raised concerns.

The big picture: These changes to Indiana's Medicaid programs are part of a broader transformation towards managed care. The state is transitioning its long-term supports and services offerings to managed care, which will involve paying Managed Care Entities (MCEs) a flat rate to cover member health benefits. The PathWays for Aging program is set to roll out on July 1, and the state is contracting with individual Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) as service coordinators.

The bottom line: Lawmakers are questioning the execution of the Medicaid programs and demanding accountability from the state agency. The concerns raised include the waitlist for services, reduced payments for families with disabled children, and the readiness of the managed care system. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

How Noncompete Ban Could Shake Up Health Care Landscape


After a 3-2 vote, the FTC is set to ban noncompete agreements in the health care sector. The rule will go into effect on Sep. 4 and is expected to have a significant impact on staffing problems.

Why it matters: The ban empowers health care workers and improves job mobility, leading to more competition for clinical talent and expanded access to providers. However, private practices worry about the potential negative impact on patient care.

The big picture: Eliminating noncompete clauses is projected to lower health care costs by $194 billion over the next decade.

What's next: Private practices fear they won't be able to compete with larger hospital systems without noncompetes. Health systems may have an advantage as some are excluded from the ruling due to their nonprofit status.

The bottom line: The ruling benefits health care workers and patients, but private practices are concerned about the care they provide amidst increased competition. (The Hill)

Interim Chief Jennifer Pyrz Named IndyGo President and CEO


Jennifer Pyrz has been appointed as the President and CEO of IndyGo, following approval by the board of directors. Pyrz, formerly the chief development officer, successfully navigated a legislative session that threatened the Blue Line bus rapid transit project. IndyGo ultimately reached a compromise to retain most of the bus-only lanes while maintaining lanes for vehicular traffic. Pyrz's leadership during this challenge demonstrated her skill, teamwork, and patience.

Why it matters: Pyrz's appointment is significant for the future of IndyGo and the success of the Blue Line project.

The big picture: Pyrz's experience and achievements, such as leading the Purple Line project and spearheading expansion plans for IndyGo's new headquarters, highlight her qualifications for the role. She has a proven track record in transit-oriented development and network planning.

The bottom line: Jennifer Pyrz's appointment as President and CEO of IndyGo marks a significant milestone in the agency's leadership. Her success in navigating legislative challenges and her proven expertise in transportation engineering were cited in making her the right fit for the role. (IBJ)

Lilly to Invest Another $5.3B in Lebanon Site to Meet Overwhelming Demand for Mounjaro, Zepbound


Lilly plans to invest $5.3 billion in its Boone County manufacturing complex in Indiana, doubling its total investment in the site. The investment will enhance capacity to manufacture tirzepatide, the active ingredient in Lilly's diabetes treatment Mounjaro and weight-loss treatment Zepbound. The Lebanon campus will contain two large manufacturing sites to make active ingredients and therapies, supporting pipeline growth and leveraging advanced technology. The investment will also create high-wage, advanced manufacturing jobs. Operations are expected to scale up by 2028.

Why it matters: The investment is significant as Lilly's drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound have faced supply shortages amid overwhelming demand. The expansion will enable the company to meet increasing demand, improve availability, and drive more revenue.

The big picture: With this investment, Lilly aims to strengthen its position in active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing of synthetic medicines. It also reflects the company's commitment to the state of Indiana, creating jobs and supporting the local economy. The investment aligns with Lilly's long-term strategy of expanding manufacturing sites and supporting innovation in the life sciences sector.

The bottom line: The investment of $5.3 billion in the manufacturing complex in Indiana will significantly increase Lilly's capacity to produce its popular drugs and meet the growing demand. The expansion will also boost the local economy by creating hundreds of new high-wage jobs and supporting Indiana's position as a hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing. (IBJ)

All 92 Counties Opt in for 2025 Public Health Funding

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All Indiana counties are set to receive additional funding from $150 million dedicated for public health departments. Six counties that opted out last year will now participate in the 2025 cohort.

The big picture: The funding is part of a two-year program to support Indiana's public health program. It aims to address the inadequate funding that counties previously experienced and provide core public health services.

Why it matters: Improving public health services is crucial for all residents. The funding will support core services such as maternal and child health and chronic disease management. By opting in, counties can better address the needs of their communities.

Go deeper: Visit for county-specific details. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

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Important Dates:


We will keep you updated as Interim Study Committees and other important meetings are scheduled.