Calling Indiana’s public health system its “Achilles Heel” in the state’s economic recovery and resiliency, Governor Eric Holcomb today announced the formation of a commission to examine the public health system. The 15-member panel will take a statewide look at public health departments and make recommendations to improve their structure, funding and operations. Holcomb says such a review was planned before the pandemic, but the need is exacerbated by the global healthcare crisis.
“The task ahead couldn’t be more important. And the time of the work that’s going to be conducted couldn’t be more pressing,” said Holcomb.
Holcomb says Indiana is often ranked in the bottom 10 states when it comes to issues such as smoking, infant mortality, and obesity. ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kris Box says the commission will look at not only those issues, but the support given to the state’s 94 individual health departments to address those challenges.
“Some of these departments are simply unable to perform all of these duties that they’re required to do by law. Their resources are stretched thin in the best of times and carrying out these required duties during a pandemic has become a Herculean task,” said Box. “By taking a deep dive into the strengths and the weaknesses of Indiana’s public health system, we believe that we’ll be able to identify ways to better support public health, reduce health disparities, and ensure that where you live will not be the determining factor with regards to your access of the public health services you can receive.”
The governor says the goal is make recommendations for improvements and standardization that can be shared with the Indiana General Assembly ahead of 2023 state budgeting process.
“This review, coupled with our ongoing commitment to improve key health indicators, will best position Indiana to be a great state to live, work, play and invest in and grow a healthy workforce,” said Holcomb.
The Governor’s Public Health Commission will be co-chaired by former state Senator Luke Kenley and former Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe. Monroe now serves as chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation.
“Public health infrastructure is vital to Indiana. But it’s vital to our nation at large and every state across the nation. The public’s health protection is something that we all should care about. And it’s something that every citizen should have access to high quality public health services,” said Monroe.
The governor’s office says appointments are currently being made. The commission is expected to begin its work in September and provide recommendations within a year.
Gov. Holcomb explained analyzing the state’s pandemic response is only a portion of the commission’s job.
ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kris Box explained the priorities of the commission.