Holcomb again extends public health emergency in Indiana

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday signed executive orders extending Indiana’s public health emergency for the 21st time.

An announcement from governor’s office said three provisions make renewing the order necessary — securing enhanced federal reimbursements for Medicaid programs; receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits; and allowing the state health commissioner to serve as the statewide ordering physician for those who choose to be vaccinated, including children 5 and older.

Indiana is eligible for federal funding for Medicaid programs to help cover the costs of 500,000 Hoosiers who have enrolled in those programs because of the pandemic. So far, the state has received $972 million from that enhanced funding, the governor’s office said.

The state would lose more than $175 million in future funding through March 2022 and about 250,000 Hoosiers would lose partial or full Medicaid coverage if the state public health emergency ends before the federal public health emergency.

The SNAP emergency allotment serves more than 600,000 Hoosiers, and the executive orders allow 200,000 eligible households to receive an additional $95 per month in federal food assistance.

Holcomb has said he would consider ending the public health emergency if the state Legislature can put in place administrative actions to keep the three provisions without an executive order.

Republican legislative leaders had drafted legislation to address emergency orders and intended to expedite votes on the bill in a one-day session on Monday to pass it before Dec. 1. Those plans were scrapped after the measure was met with backlash last week for the speedy process and separate language added into that same bill that would have restricted employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates to accept any medical or religious exemptions.

Lawmakers in the House formally filed the same bill on Monday https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/lawmakers-formally-file-legislation-to-limit-business-vaccine-mandates  to consider during the legislative session starting Jan. 4. House Bill 1001 was the first bill filed for session, and it has 56 House Republicans signed on as authors, including House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, signaling the bill is likely a high priority for GOP leadership.

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