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On April 9, the Indy Chamber together with Bose McKinney & Evans LLP gathered local CEOs for a roundtable discussion on workforce health: why it matters, what problems the community is facing, and ways we can come together to provide solutions.

Out of the roundtable discussions, key themes emerged.

THERE NEEDS TO BE A TARGETED FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH.

  • Co-occurring mental health and addictions issues are common—prevalent concerns include: substance abuse, depression, smoking, and obesity.
  • Existing mental health issues exist across the workforce, across the pay scale, and especially in the veteran populations.
  • Reimbursement on mental health care is low in Indiana, so treatment becomes expensive.

THERE ARE EXISTING BARRIERS TO HEALTHCARE ACCESS.

  • Uncertainty exists in healthcare costs/navigating healthcare systems.
  • People lack access to primary care, especially in low-income urban and rural communities.
  • Healthcare and pharmacy costs are prohibitively high.
  • Both the Medicaid and WIC eligibility process can be confusing to many.
  • In hospitals, nurses are leaving the workforce due to burnout and retirement.
  • There are systematic barriers to healthcare, including gender, race, and income.

INDY IS EXPERIENCING A LACK OF ECONOMIC MOBILITY.

  • Best practices analysis is needed to explore how peer cities and states have improved wage levels.
  • In particular, this analysis should show the impact of improved wage growth on crime levels and health outcomes.
  • Investment is needed in infrastructure, education, job skills development, and housing.

WE NEED TO FOCUS ON PROVIDING BETTER HEALTHCARE TO WOMEN.

  • Maternal/Infant mortality rates in Indiana are some of the worst in the nation.
  • Maternity leaves are short—many women are not getting full salaries.
  • Many women of color live in food deserts and experience food insecurity, exposing them to additional, related health risks.

With these key themes in mind, the group discussed ways to provide action and accountability to improve the Indy region’s workforce health. The Indy Chamber’s Health Policy Council is committed to developing strategies to move the needle on four root causes of Central Indiana’s poor health rankings:

  • Tobacco Use
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health
  • Obesity and Nutritional Health
  • Maternal and Infant mortality

To get engage further in the conversation and learn how you can get involved, please reach out to the Indy Chamber’s Chief Policy Officer Mark Fisher at mfisher@indychamber.com.