INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed the new state budget into law, and it includes a significant funding increase for public health.

The new two-year state budget provides $225 million for public health – almost all of which is new funding.

When it comes to health rankings, Indiana has faced challenges.

“We have low birth weight, as does the state,” said Stephenie Mellinger, administrator of the Madison County Health Department. “We also have a whole bunch of kids who need to get caught up on vaccinations, as does the whole state.”

Mellinger said Madison County, which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state, desperately needs more resources for moms and young children.

She thinks the new state funding can have a significant impact.

“Increase our outreach staff by adding some certified community health workers/medical assistants to do more one-on-one patient education.” Mellinger said.

In Clinton County, health administrator Rodney Wann is looking to use the funds to launch maternal and child health care services.

“Making sure that the infant has the proper immunizations and proper care and pediatric care once they’re born,” Wann said.

Under Senate Enrolled Act 4, counties have to opt in to receive the state funds. If they do so, they have to offer certain minimum services, including access to child and adult immunizations, STD testing and student health screenings.

“As it begins to work, as this begins to show results, that there’ll be more counties opting to get in,” said State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), who helped lead the effort.

“We as public health [officials] think we in the next few years of these changes can start to implement programs that will improve the quality of that health for Hoosiers and for those looking to come here,” Wann said.

It’ll be up to county commissioners to decide whether their health departments accept the new state funding. The new budget takes effect July 1.