INDIANAPOLIS — A legislative committee has finalized recommendations for how to best lower healthcare costs for Hoosiers.

During the final meeting of the Health Care Cost Oversight Task Force, policy experts said nearly 24 percent of Indiana’s in-network claims were denied in 2021 — making it one of the highest rates in the nation. Problems with insurance are also causing physicians to burn out en masse as roughly 71,000 doctors left the workforce between 2021 and 2022.

”I think there’s a realization that it is multi-pronged when it comes to our health care challenges,” said Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association. 

”We know that this year Hoosiers are going to pay more in healthcare costs than all of the states around us,” State Rep. Ryan Hatfield said.

According to Rep. Hatfield, one of those recommendations goes after insurance providers: requiring them to explain their reasoning behind denying claims and establishing penalties for bad actors.

”There are clear abuses, we heard testimony today that there are clear abuses by certain companies, we need to aim at them first to make sure that we’re cutting out the abuse in the pre-authorization space,” Rep. Hatfield said.

”Forget how we end up doing it, I think it’s a good thing that we have something like that,” State Sen. Ed Charbonneau said.

Another key recommendation would require hospitals to give lawmakers six months’ notice if they intend to merge or acquire another hospital.

”We already have an oligopoly in the healthcare delivery market right now,” State Sen. Charbonneau said.

However, the IHA President said he’s concerned that particular recommendation could restrict the ability of rural hospitals to partner up and stay open.

”Quite often when a hospital has become part of a larger health system, it is because that small hospital is struggling and may go out of business,” Tabor said.

Task force members have pointed out that although these are the final recommendations for this upcoming session, this is a two-year-long process, and they plan to fine-tune some of these recommendations by the 2025 budget session.