SALEM - The governor's proposed budget for the next two years could include requirements that have a financial effect on the Salem City Health Department, including one requiring accreditation to receive state funding.
City Health Commissioner Richard Setty updated city health board members on implementation of the recommendations made by the Public Health Futures Committee, which looked at shared services, consolidations and ways to increase efficiency in local health departments statewide.
The recommendations were delivered to the governor in the fall and Setty said it looks like the Ohio Department of Health is attempting to implement some of the major components of the health futures report through the budget.
According to an email Setty received from his counterpart at the Holmes County General Health District, the governor's budget authorizes ODH to require general or city health departments to be accredited beginning in 2018 as a condition to receive funding from ODH, whether it's through grants or the state subsidy.
Setty said the city receives about $3,000 from the state subsidy. If that went away because the city health department isn't accredited, it would put another hole in the budget.
The fee for accreditation every five years would be $12,720, which could be paid on a pro-rated basis over the five-year period.
Other recommendations included in the budget include requiring each board of health member to complete eight continuing education units each year, regionalizing grant administration, requiring food sanitarians to be certified by the United States Food and Drug Administration, encouraging shared services through regional shared service hubs for human resources, payroll processing, information technology and financial management, allowing shared services among non-contiguous cities or counties and permissive multi-county levy authority for public health services and requiring county-level public health planning. The budget also calls for inclusion of the executive officer or medical director of a hospital or the largest medical facility in the district on the board.
Setty shared with the board a memo sent to state legislators by Columbiana County Health Commissioner Wes Vins regarding the possible impact of the accreditation requirement on local health boards.
In the memo, he said local health departments already have quality assurance through state program audits, financial audits and performance standards. The cost to Ohio's 125 local health departments would total $2.2 million and send all that Ohio money to Virginia to the Public Health Accreditation Board instead of having it available for local health services.
"Mandatory accreditation would eliminate many smaller and poorer health departments and force regionalization resulting in a reduction in access to care for many families in need," the memo said.
The next meeting of the health board is 10 a.m. March 27.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org