FORT WAYNE, Ind.
(AP) - Indiana health experts are pushing for more state funding to address
problems, including the opioid epidemic, tobacco use and high infant
leaders and public policy experts discussed health-related topics Tuesday at
a State of Our Health Road Show, a forum hosted by the Alliance for a
Healthier Indiana, The Journal Gazette reported.
Indiana has some of
the highest rates of tobacco use and obesity, according to a recent report
from the United Health Foundation.
The state’s health
is so poor because not enough money goes into public health, said Allen
County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan.
Indiana spends less
than $62 per resident in public health funding, according to the America’s
Health Rankings 2017 report. Only Nevada spends less, the report said.
The state should
increase cigarette taxes and use that revenue to boost public health
efforts, said Dr. Tony GiaQuinta, president of the Indiana American Academy
“It has been
well-studied that when you raise the tax, less people will smoke,” GiaQuinta
said. “That money needs to go back into public health.”
The alliance hopes
to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. That policy move could
net the state about $315 million, according to Alliance estimates.
also threaten the state’s economy, forum speakers said. Illnesses can drive
up employers’ costs to insure workers and unhealthy employees sometimes
can’t work, said Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association.
“It is a business
issue,” he said.
The Alliance for a
Healthier Indiana is comprised of doctors, health care professionals,
advocates and community and business leaders. The organization has scheduled
17 such forums around the state.