FORT BRANCH — With many new laws effective July 1, State Rep. Matt Hostettler (R-Fort Branch) said several important changes support Hoosier teachers, patients and farmers.

“This session, state lawmakers tackled a variety of issues on behalf of hardworking Hoosiers,” Hostettler said in a news release. “From strengthening our schools to cutting health care costs, these new laws will have a positive impact on our community and state.”

Teachers, students and schoolsHostettler said as part of House Enrolled Act 1002, standardized test scores will no longer be required to be a part of teacher performance evaluations. He said this should reduce the pressure educators often feel to teach to the test and, as a result, make teaching more attractive as a career. House Enrolled Act 1003 went into effect earlier this year to allow the State Board of Education to streamline the timing and frequency of required teacher trainings and grant waivers for schools to bypass over 1,500 regulations. As Indiana continues to transition to the new ILEARN exam, lawmakers passed Senate Enrolled Act 2 so that school accountability grades cannot be negatively impacted by student scores for two years.

According to Hostettler, House Enrolled Act 1283 supports students with mental health issues, including those involved in bullying, and experiencing behavioral problems or physical illnesses. The new law ensures aspiring educators receive training on best practices to recognize students’ behavioral reactions to trauma so they can address these issues in their classrooms with increased understanding and insight.

PatientsUnder House Enrolled Act 1004, patients will be protected from receiving surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers, and, in the case of an elective procedure, the patient will have the right to receive an upfront, good-faith estimate of expected charges.

In addition, Senate Enrolled Act 5 requires hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and urgent care clinics to publish their average prices online, and Hostettler said a new HIPAA-compliant database of all health insurance claims will empower consumers by providing information about cost and quality.

Farmers and rural communitiesSenate Enrolled Act 184 allows the Indiana Farm Bureau to offer a health benefits plan to its members. Hostettler said this plan is not health insurance, but would provide similar benefits to help many farmers who have limited access to affordable health care options.

Hostettler authored House Enrolled Act 1343 to extend liability coverage to the New Harmony Toll Bridge. The law went into effect earlier this year to prevent the New Harmony and the Wabash River authorities from being forced to transfer the bridge to Illinois, causing the community and state to lose an economic asset.

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