IBJ Podcast: Former budget hawk flips role, asks for big increase in state health spending

No one disputes that Indiana residents rank very low among all Americans in terms of their health. The operative question, which will be posed to Indiana legislators in their budget-writing session beginning next month, is to what extent the state should try to intervene and do something about it.

Last year, Gov. Eric Holcomb convened a special commission to conduct the first comprehensive assessment of Indiana’s public health system in more than three decades. It was co-chaired by former state senator Luke Kenley, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee from 2009 to 2017 and one of the most powerful holders of state purse strings for many years.

This summer, the commission released its findings and recommendations. Its overarching proposal is that the state increase annual public health funding from about $55 per person—which ranks 48th in terms of state funding per capita in the nation—to $91 per person. That would cost another $242.6 million a year.

Kenley’s job now is to convince skeptical state legislators that this added expenditure is worth it. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Kenley discusses his strategy, as well as why the state’s public health spending has been so relatively meager up to this point. And he’s joined by Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana state health commissioner, to discuss the need to improve the health of Hoosiers and how best to deploy the proposed annual injection of $242.6 million.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunesGoogle PlayTune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts.

You can also listen to these recent episodes:

IBJ Podcast: Indy-based airline charting path to more diverse workforce

IBJ Podcast: Could Nashville steal Indy’s conventions-and-events thunder with new stadium?

IBJ Podcast: Four important races to watch on Election Day

IBJ Podcast: Ben Lytle on navigating coming disruptions in tech, culture

IBJ Podcast: Pete The Planner has a frank message on accepting your future demise

IBJ Podcast: Rahal, Frye on why race teams are investing in Indy now

Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

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