May 28, 2024
Funds

Local health departments start getting state funds for public health


Eighty-six counties covering nearly 96% of Hoosiers have started receiving $75 million of state funds dedicated to improving public health outcomes under the Health First Indiana (HFI) program, an initiative approved and funded in the 2023 legislative session.

“The work began in 2021 with the formation of the Governor’s Public Health Commission, the support for the passage of SEA 4 and the overwhelming county-level participation in Health First Indiana have brought us to this moment,” said State Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver in a release. “As I have visited communities across the state, it is clear they are poised to address the most pressing health challenges they face through partnerships within those communities.”

The state map showing counties that did, and did not, accept new public health funding. (Health First Indiana)

Prior to HFI, the public health investment averaged $55 per resident across the state — far below the national average of $91 per resident — and ranged from $83 to $1.25 per Hoosier, depending on their county of residence. The combined state investment before this program was $6.9 million.

However, the $75 million for 2024 followed by $150 million in 2025 falls short of the original demand from the Governor’s Public Health Commission, which pushed for a $250 million annually.

State funding to local public health departments will be dedicated to “core” public health services, which includes maternal and child health, tobacco and vaping cessation, chronic disease, trauma and injury prevention and more. More than three-quarters of funding must cover prevention and health outcome core services but the remain 22% can be used for regulatory expenses.

Local public health department have a myriad of duties, including restaurant inspections, certifying tattoo parlors and managing cases of lead exposure.

Weaver said in October that the six counties not participating in HFI — Whitley, Wells, Fountain, Johnson, Crawford and Harrison — will receive their legacy funding of $387,000 for the 2024 fiscal year and they can still participate in 2025.

To see county-specific details, including health metrics and funding amounts, visit healthfirstindiana.in.gov.

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