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Legislators Look To Doctors For New Ideas On Reducing Infant Mortality Rate

Bradley Stemke

Legislators are crafting a grant program aimed at improving Indiana‘s sixth-worst in the nation infant mortality rate. Instead of state initiatives to address infant mortality, legislators are hoping local hospitals and doctors have better ideas.

The proposed "Safety PIN" grant gives preference to a handful of areas, including steering more women into prenatal care or getting pregnant women to quit smoking. The PIN in Safety PIN stands for Protecting Indiana‘s Newborns.

Rep. Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville), the bill‘s author, says grant proposals could target anything from a region to a single zip code. She and Senate sponsor Travis Holdman (R-Markle) both say different issues may be more significant in different parts of the state.

“Whatever the particular issue might be, early detection and prenatal care might be some of the issues that may affect, perhaps, Fort Wayne but we may see a higher incidence of smoking, perhaps, in Evansville,” Holdman says.

House Republicans made the grant program part of their legislative agenda, and set aside 11-million dollars over two years in their budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill Thursday.

Holdman says the Senate may try to be more specific about how the grants should be used. And he says he‘s concerned about a House plan to deliver only half of each grant up front, with the other half based on results.

He says that could end up being self-defeating, with organizations forced to try to achieve results with half the budget.

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