Lawmakers propose legislation to tackle drug epidemic

Indiana lawmakers propose legislation to tackle drug epidemic. WLFI/File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — A local lawmaker has proposed legislation to help tackle Indiana’s drug epidemic. It’s aimed directly at home health care providers.

“I wouldn’t want someone taking care of me that’s on drugs or being able to access my drugs,” said Marvin Hill, board president at the Surf Center in Lafayette.

With Indiana in the midst of a drug epidemic, lawmakers are shedding light on the issue.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman authored Senate Bill 513. It would require home health care agencies to drug test employees and job applicants.

“What we’re trying to do is increase our level of vigilance in this area by requiring periodic drug testing of those folks who have direct patient contact to not only help prevent abuse, but to identify it when it occurs,” Hershman said.

If the bill goes into law, employers would be required to drug test at least once a year. Employees suspected of using drugs could be subject to random testing.

If the test is positive, the agency would have to terminate or suspend an employee from direct patient contact for at least six months.

The bill would exempt those employed by a home health agency owned by a licensed hospital.

Hershman said the bill has been perceived positively by most.

“The only concerns were from some of the providers, and I tried to thoughtfully listen to concerns they raised and offer some amendments to improve the bill,” Hershman said. “And I think that’s happened.”

Hill says he’s glad to see lawmakers tackling this issue.

“Keep going, keep enforcing more laws putting out more rules and regulations,” Hill said. “I mean it’s an epidemic, it’s a serious issue.”

Hershman said, “We need to run the gamut if we’re going to get a handle on this, and I’d like Indiana to be a leader in the nation in combating illegal drug use.”

The senator said the bill passed out of the House Health Committee Monday. It will now be available for amendment on the House floor in the coming days.

If it makes its way to the governor’s desk, it will become law on July 1.