Indiana Chamber, Wellness Council Leading the Way for Employers on Battling Opioid Epidemic

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to “cultivate a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.” And as an organization that partners with 25,000 members and investors (representing over four million Hoosiers), we’re well-suited to lead on critical topics to employers and employees in the state.

That’s why the Indiana Chamber and the Wellness Council of Indiana are joining forces with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, one of the most challenging and devastating issues of our time.

The Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative, announced today to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, is being convened to educate and guide employers to:

  • offer health benefits that provide coverage for substance abuse disorders;
  • expand drug testing to include prescription drugs;
  • provide effective employee assistance, wellness and work-life programs that include information and services related to substances abuse prevention, treatment and return to work issues; and
  • train managers to recognize and respond to substance abuse issues.

“The workplace has long been a provider of the resources and support that help Hoosiers enhance their quality of life,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “Today, employers can and need to be part of the solution to this epidemic. By bringing together the required resources, our goal is to help deliver the information and training to help them do just that.”

Jennifer Pferrer and Kevin Brinegar announce the initiative.

Specific programs will be unveiled as they are developed. Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (part of the Indiana Chamber since 2011) will lead the combined effort of the two organizations.

Gov. Holcomb has made attacking the drug epidemic one of the five pillars of his agenda.

“The effects of Indiana’s opioid epidemic are far-reaching and devastating to individual Hoosiers, families, communities and our economy,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It will take all of us working together to slow down and reverse this addiction crisis. I commend the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Wellness Council of Indiana for joining forces to launch this new initiative that will help our state’s employers, who are directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

Find the full press release here and a fact sheet on the workforce impacts of the epidemic at www.indianachamber.com/opioids. Follow us on social media for updates and more information about the initiative.

100+ Business Leaders Going to D.C. This Week for Chamber Fly-in

A record group of more than 100 of the state’s top business leaders and government affairs executives will be attending the Indiana Chamber’s annual D.C. Fly-in on September 27 and 28. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with a potential health care reform vote, rollout of a tax reform plan and the end of the fiscal year all taking place.

This year, legislative briefings will be conducted by congressional members, who will be highlighting key public policy areas that line up with their committee assignments and expertise:

  • Tax reform – Indiana 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski
  • Regulatory reform – Indiana 9th District U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth
  • Health care reform – Indiana 8th District U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon
  • Infrastructure and transportation policy – Indiana 4th District U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita
  • Education policy – Indiana 6th District U.S. Rep. Luke Messer

There is still time to register for the D.C. Fly-in; go to www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @IndianaChamber or #ICCinDC for up-to-the-minute important information on what’s happening in Washington.

Zimmer Biomet is the Fly-in’s dinner sponsor. Allegion is the cocktail reception sponsor. Build Indiana Council is the legislative briefing sponsor.

Event sponsors are AT&T, The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, The Kroger Co., Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power.

Pres. Brinegar Offers Chamber’s Reaction to State Budget Deal

Earlier today, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Indiana Senate President David Long announced a deal had been reached on House Bill 1001, the two-year state budget. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts to the budget provisions:

"The new state budget has a strong focus on jobs and economic growth, putting additional investments into education and workforce development while also making important tax cuts.

"Trimming the individual income tax rate by 5% will not only benefit working Hoosiers but also many of the state's smallest business owners.

"It was particularly important to see some K-12 funding restored (cut during the last budget process) and more dollars targeted for our highways and infrastructure system.

"Meanwhile, the immediate elimination of the inheritance tax is long overdue and will lift a significant burden off of small, family-owned businesses.

"We commend House and Senate leaders, the governor's office and all those who got the budget to where it is — fiscally sound and including a wide variety of positive provisions for Hoosiers."

Facts Ignored, Politics Winning on Common Core

Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards. No educational backgrounds. No track record of supporting education reforms or any other past education issues. And worst of all: A demonstrated willingness to say just about anything, no matter how unsubstantiated or blatantly false, to advocate their cause.

Meanwhile, the policy that they are attacking was implemented by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, then State Superintendent Tony Bennett, the Indiana Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education. To date, 45 other states have also adopted it. Common Core has been supported by superintendents, school boards, Indiana’s Catholic and other private schools, principals, teachers unions, the Indiana PTA, various education reform groups, higher education and more. The business community is actively engaged, including strong support from the Indiana Chamber, Eli Lilly, Cummins, Dow AgroSciences, IU Health and many others.

Given that lineup, to whom would you expect the Legislature to be listening? Amazingly, for many in both the House and Senate Republican caucuses, it’s the former and not the latter. Few legislators know anything about Common Core other than the rhetoric that has been thrown at them. Yet, it appears that a majority of Republican legislators are willing to heed those calls, to ignore the more thorough reviews and judgment of individuals and groups that have led on education issues and to throw out two years of implementation that have been underway at schools throughout the state.