Bills regarding COVID-19, women’s suffrage, telehealth advance at Indiana Statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — COVID-19 could soon be listed as an exposure risk disease for public safety officials.

A bill authored by State Senator Jon Ford aims to list variants of SARS, including COVID-19, as exposure risk diseases for first responders in order for those frontline workers and their loved ones to claim benefits in the event of death or disability.

The bill sets a deadline of December 31, 2021, for the employee to provide verification that the exposure to COVID-19 happened while in the line of duty. This verification is done through contact tracing.

If a first responder dies from that exposure and further complications, their loved ones would be able to list that death for the purpose of receiving benefits.

The bill has passed through the Senate and is now being considered in the House.

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Another bill Sen. Ford has attached his name to would create a monument on statehouse grounds that honors the work of Indiana’s suffragists.

The 19th Amendment was ratified over a century ago, with 2020 marking 100 years since women gained the right to vote. Now, lawmakers want to honor Hoosiers who were included in the U.S. movement.

The bill extends the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to 2024 and tasks the commission with creating the monument, which would be completed by January 1, 2024 and installed by the Department of Administration.

The bill recently passed through the Senate and has been referred to the House.

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Telehealth services are the focus of another bill making its way through the Indiana Statehouse. State Representative Shane Lindauer authored a bill expanding telehealth service options after seeing a sharp increase in the use of virtual appointments and health care services in 2020.

According to data from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana saw roughly 350,000 telehealth claims in the first half of 2020, in comparison 76,000 claims in 2019.

The bill would make telehealth service options permanent and would expand access to those virtual services. The legislation also aims to put guidelines in place to ensure the quality of a telehealth appointment is the same as if the appointment were an in-person visit.

The bill passed through the House and was referred to the Senate on Thursday.

For a full list of bills being considered at the Indiana Statehouse this session, visit the Indiana General Assembly website.

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