A new study from George Mason University ranks Indiana as the third freest state in the nation. But the definition of “free” divides Indiana lawmakers. The “Freedom in 50 States” from George Mason’s Mercatus Center ranks states on their public policies promoting individual economic, social, and personal freedoms, awarding points to states with less regulation and docking those with many regulatory laws.
Bedford State Representative Eric Koch says the results reflect Indiana’s promotion of policies based on free markets.
“Well I do think that markets, better than government, are best to decide the allocation of resources,” he says. “And as the study noted, Indiana did take the lead nationally several years ago in bringing choice to telecommunications and to cable, and I think that’s one area that the study found, worked.”
But Bloomington State Rep. Peggy Welch, who worked at IU Health Bloomington, points out that light regulation in the public welfare and hospital sectors can actually exclude certain Hoosiers.
“We sort of are at a loss at that hospital because we have so many people who don’t have health insurance or people who have health insurance and can’t pay the whole bill themselves,” she says.
Only New Hampshire and South Dakota rate as being “freer” than Indiana in the study. California, New Jersey and New York rate as the three most restrictive states.