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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Shackleford: Many hands make the work light

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It has been my mission to advocate for all Hoosiers. Especially when it comes to matters of public health. As Indiana returns to normalcy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the many disparities that have been plaguing our state. As the chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), what I have witnessed during my time in this role has broken my heart time and time again. Many in our state are without essential proper care, due to a lack of investment for our State in public health. That must change, and it must change now.

In August, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Public Health Commission released its final recommendations per the findings of the Indiana State Department of Health. I vow to do all that I can to create legislation and policy that fulfill these vital recommendations.

It is my honor to support the following recommendations from the commission:

Increase funding to achieve consistent per capita spending at 2019 national average of $91 per person as compared to Indiana’s $55 per person.

Indiana Department of Health will provide additional staff and resources at district level to support local public health.

Ensure representation of municipalities on local health boards and allow for greater citizen and local elected official engagement.

Provide local health departments with stable, recurring and accessible funding.

Local elected officials would agree to provide foundational public health services by voting to opt in every five years.

Enhance recruitment, training and retention to ensure workforce capacity and skills are sufficient to support Hoosier health.

Improve the school nurse-to-student ratio and increase access to services that support whole child wellness.

Support evidenced-based health education, nutrition and physical activity in schools.

These recommendations are not far-fetched, and we can tackle them, if we do it together. As mentioned earlier, I will do all that I can on the legislative side; however, it cannot stop there. We need your advocacy. If you haven’t learned by now, your advocacy pushes good legislation and kills bad legislation. You have incredible power in your hands.

As we prepare for the 2023 legislative session, there are several ways you can ensure our health is a priority; propose further recommendations for public health to my office at H98@in.gov, write/email/call your legislators to discuss the same, make requests to the legislature and the governor to properly allocate the funding needed to support the recommendations, or come down and testify in favor of the legislation when it is heard in committee.

There is much to be done, but we can do it together. I trust in your advocacy, and I need you to trust in mine. Many hands make the work light and what better way to fight, than for the health of our communities.

State Rep. Robin Shackleford represents Indiana House District 98, is Indiana Black Legislative Caucus chair, POWER Women Caucus vice chair and Public Health Committee ranking minority member. Contact her at H98@iga.in.gov.

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