The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:00 am

Committee to review Indiana health system

Governor says state's low rankings in field have been weakness

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday announced the creation of a 15-member commission to examine Indiana's public health system and make recommendations to improve its structure, funding and operations.

“Our public health system has been around for almost 140 years, and it's overdue for a thorough look so that we can best position it to provide excellence to Hoosiers for the next 100 years,” he said. “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.”

Holcomb said Indiana leads the nation in many areas such as tax climate and fiscal health but called the state's continual low rankings on health issues the state's Achilles heel.

The Governor's Public Health Commission will be co-chaired by former state Sen. Luke Kenley and Dr. Judy Monroe, who served as Indiana's state health commissioner from 2005 to 2010 and now serves as president and chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box will serve as the commission's secretary.

Kenley congratulated Holcomb for having the courage to take the issue on, saying it would be easy for him to ride out his term and not deal with Indiana's low health rankings.

The commission will include subgroups that will examine such topics as funding and resources, delivery of services, and collection and use of data. Its goal is to make recommendations for improvements and standardization that can be shared with the Indiana General Assembly for the 2023 session.

According to the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, Indiana spends $15 per person on state public health funding. That is fifth lowest nationwide. The highest-ranked states spend in the hundreds of dollars per person. The median is $36.

Box said one task force will focus on lessons learned from the pandemic.

Such a review was planned before the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the need the modernize Indiana's public health system, a news release said.

“Indiana's public health workforce is made up of some of the most dedicated people you will ever encounter,” Box said. “They truly care about their communities and have worked tirelessly to protect Hoosiers. They deserve our heartfelt thanks, and they deserve our help. Determining what that help should look like is the goal of this commission.”

Appointments to the commission are forthcoming. The commission is expected to begin its work in September and provide recommendations within a year.

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