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Indiana Health Goals Fall Short In Economic Report

Kevin Brinegar is the president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Brinegar is the president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)

Indiana has made strides in a plan to improve the state’s economic outlook but a number of health measures could be holding back progress.

The Indiana Vision 2025 plan was released seven years ago and sets goals for the state’s long-term economic development – including measures of health. Since its release, Indiana’s smoking rate has increased to 22 percent, ranking among the 10 worst states in the country.

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinnegar says in recent years he has urged state lawmakers to adopt policy changes, including a cigarette tax to address this issue.

"Smoking is estimated to cost Indiana businesses around the state some $6.2 billion a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity and absenteeism," says Brinnegar. 

The report card also shows the state’s obesity ranking has increased from 31 to nearly 34 percent, a measure that also adds to employer health care costs.

Brinnegar says businesses tell him that is an issue. 

"While that might not be the number one factor in deciding where to locate a facility or expand a facility, it gets thrown into the mix, and right now, it’s a big strike against us," says Brinnegar. 

Indiana’s health insurance premium rankings have improved, but only as the result of other states doing worse.

A measure of drug-related deaths was added to the plan in 2017.  Indiana ranked 37 out of 50 states in this goal.

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