Bill establishing Indiana state dementia plan signed into law

INDIANAPOLIS – House Bill 1177, which requires the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration Division of Aging to develop a strategic dementia plan, has been signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb. HB1177 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

It was authored by Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis) and co-authored by Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Denver), Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond), and Rep. Brad Barrett, (R-Richmond). Senate sponsors included Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary), Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis), Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis), and Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington).

Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis)

“This is an issue that is very near to my heart,” said Porter, who is a caregiver for his mother. “Now that the governor has signed this bill, it is a declaration that at last, we are taking this disease seriously. To the hundred thousand Hoosiers like my mother who face dementia every day, and to the loyal caregivers who stand by them – we are with you and we are for you because we are you. This affects every one of us. When we stand together, we are strong. And together we will embark on this mission towards healing.”

Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville)

“With the effects, the pandemic has had on our state’s health care system, a state dementia plan has become more important than ever for our vulnerable Hoosiers and their caretakers,” Becker said. “I’m pleased to see HEA 1177 receive such strong support in the General Assembly and look forward to seeing its positive impact.”

Indiana is one of only a few states across the country with no current state dementia plan. Having a state dementia plan will help healthcare providers and organizations coordinate care across the state. It will also help Indiana secure federal funding through the BOLD (Building Our Largest Dementia) Infrastructure Act, which was signed into law on Dec. 21, 2018.

Dementia costs the state more than $1 billion a year in Medicaid alone, a figure that is expected to rise as more Hoosiers develop the disease and as a result of COVID-19.

Natalie Sutton, executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Hoosiers living with dementia and their caregivers especially hard, exposing gaps in the system that left them especially vulnerable,” said Natalie Sutton, executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. “This legislation is a crucial step to making Indiana a more dementia-capable state, and I want to thank Governor Holcomb, all the legislators who supported this bill, and the hundreds of volunteer advocates across the state who helped push for its passage.”

The bill enjoyed support from numerous organizations involved in the fight against dementia, including the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions and Dementia Friends Indiana; Indiana Health Care Association, and the Indiana Center for Assisted Living.

Kristen LaEace, chief executive officer of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging

“Indiana is fortunate to have many advocates, health care providers, service agencies, researchers, and other organizations involved in treating persons with dementia, supporting families and caregivers, and helping our communities become more dementia-friendly. It is crucial that we coordinate these efforts to better serve those living with the disease and their caregivers,” said Kristen LaEace, chief executive officer of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “We were proud to support this legislation and look forward to working with stakeholders across the state to develop a plan that addresses dementia as the public health crisis that it is.”