Health officials voice concerns about Indiana bill that aims to restrict mandates

Health officials voice concerns about Indiana bill that aims to restrict mandates
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Health officials from Indiana Public Health Association met in a virtual meeting on Friday afternoon to express concerns about Indiana Senate Bill 5.

“This bill would have a far-reaching and profound impact on many of the other duties and responsibilities of local health departments.,” Dr. Jeremy Adler of Indiana’s State Associations of County and City Health Officials (SACCHO) said.

The bill would place many of the responsibilities of public health on the shoulders of county government officials.

“For instance, if we have a restaurant that we have to ask to close because of some infectious disease, that’s one thing, or if we have a septic tank that’s leaking on people’s parking lots,” Vanderburgh County Health Officer Dr. Ken Spear said. “I would like to be able to say, you know, we’ve got to stop that and you need to repair that.”

If the measure passes, county health departments would need to go through people like Vanderburgh County Commissioner Ben Shoulders in order to take action.

“They are the professionals and that’s their industry,” Shoulders said. “So I don’t believe that, as a county commissioner, I should be making healthcare direct decisions. I think our healthcare professionals, healthcare department and healthcare experts should.”

However, the Indiana State Senate and House have differing, amended versions of the bill, which is why it will be further discussed as early as next week.

“We don’t know what the final bill is going to be right now because apparently it is going back into committee,” Dr. Spear said. “It does make the health officer more reliant on county commissioners.”

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