By Allison Aultman, MPH and Sara Suisman, MPH, Indiana Public Health Association 

In August 2021, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb established the Governor’s Public Health Commission, which was tasked with assessing Indiana’s current public health system, identifying opportunities for improvement, and issuing a final report of recommendations. As anticipated, several of the Commission’s recommendations were included in legislation during the 2023 Indiana General Assembly. The state budget bill (House Bill 1001) included appropriations for local public health amounting to $225M over the next two fiscal years. Additionally, Senate Bill 4 defined the core public health services to be delivered in every county, with the goal of alleviating current disparities in service delivery – and thereby, improving health outcomes – statewide. Counties decide whether to opt-in to the new funding to provide and/or expand upon the core public health services, including trauma and injury prevention, chronic disease prevention, maternal and child health and more, with the goal of ensuring that every Hoosier has access to the core public health services that allow them to achieve their optimal health and well-being. In April 2023, the state legislature passed both Senate Bill 4 and $225 million in state appropriations for local public health, and 86 of 92 Indiana counties voted to receive the funding which covers 96% of Hoosiers. Health First Indiana (HFI) is the implementation of core public health service delivery using this funding.  

With this historical investment in Indiana’s public health comes a need for collaboration between the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH), local health departments (LHDs), the Indiana Public Health Association (IPHA), and other community partners. In order to optimize core service delivery and utilize best practices, it is essential to coordinate efforts statewide. 

The IDOH is currently forming three regional teams to provide technical assistance to LHDs in a variety of areas. Regional directors are hosting in-person workshops in each of Indiana’s 10 public health preparedness districts to support local partnership development in each core service area. These workshops highlight LHD successes in each core service area, facilitate roundtable discussions with subject matter experts, and support the development of local action plans. The regional directors also host calls and routine meetings to share resources with their respective districts. 

The IPHA is contracted through the IDOH to provide support and technical assistance to LHDs as they navigate HFI. IPHA hosts various meetings that foster sharing of successes, resources, and growth opportunities among LHDs. IPHA and IDOH are working together to provide pathways for LHDs to connect to community organizations and coalitions to reach key performance measures. In collaboration with IDOH’s regional directors, IPHA is hosting sessions following the district workshops to further assist LHDs with developing their individual action plans. Local partnerships, resources, and tools will allow LHDs to optimally deliver core public health services in their communities. IPHA is grateful to be providing valuable support and guiding efforts to optimize this historical funding and new path forward for Indiana’s public health system.


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