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The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee voted 9-3 on Wednesday to move Senate Bill 7 on to the full chamber, where it’s likely to draw intense interest from the state’s health-care community.

A major component of SB 7 would prohibit physicians and employers from entering noncompete agreements. Indiana Sen. Justin Busch, R-Fort Wayne, and Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, authored the bill.

Noncompete agreements typically keep physicians from working in the same industry within a certain radius of their previous employer and/or within a certain time frame. This can force doctors to move out of the area—sometimes out of state—to be able to work after leaving their previous position.

Meanwhile, employers like hospitals are concerned that the elimination of noncompete agreements could impact the investment they put into their workers through training and recruitment.

Senators weighed both sides when voting for the bill.

“Everything we get into in the health-care area is difficult for a whole bunch of reasons,” said Charbonneau. “I have flip-flopped on this over time. But something needs to be done.”

He voted yes but noted his expectations for Busch to keep working to make the bill better for both physicians and employers.

After hearing public testimony from representatives of both doctors and hospitals, most committee members chose to explain their votes.

“We need to look at both sides. Indiana does have an access and affordability problem, and I am going to vote yes to continue making this better and hopefully find a way,” said Sen. Shelli Yoder (above, center), D-Bloomington.

The major concern for some committee members seemed to reside with the impact more competition could have on rural hospitals.

“I am very committed to my small rural hospitals that I was a no on this bill; I have to remain so,” said Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg.

Leising said she wished Busch would have made exceptions for rural hospitals within the bill so she could have given her support.

Kyra Howard is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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