Opinion: We hope commissioners follow the spirit of the new Public Health Act | Opinion


We are pleased to learn that the Yakima County Board of Commissioners intends to follow a new state law aimed at eliminating politics from public health policy.

Given the resistance of some of them to follow state health rules in the past, we are relieved that the commissioners do not plan to go rogue and somehow challenge the new mandate.

And as they discuss how to make sure our local health board meets all legal requirements, we hope they truly follow the spirit of the law and remove political pressure from the policy-making of local health.

Under the new law, public health boards must meet certain standards. Among other things, it requires councils to have as many unelected private members as elected ones.

It’s a key point in Yakima County, where the three commissioners set out last year to update the seven-person board of health, which includes themselves, two local city council members and two non-members. elected.

However, they delayed changes until they had a chance to see what the new state law might mean.

But the commissioners’ plan would have given the board a decidedly political tone and opened the door to five elected officials with little or no experience in direct health care – who could easily outrank the two remaining members, who are both doctors. .

In other words, politics would have taken precedence over professional expertise.

Under the new rule, however, the board of health will either have to add unelected members or subtract elected ones. And one member must be from the Yakama nation. This member would be appointed by the American Indian Health Commission.

Undoubtedly, many possible scenarios are being sketched out as we speak.

We’d throw in one more here, though: given that county commissioners already decide the vast majority of seats on the board, it seems like a stretch that all three should be on it. One would think that one commissioner would be more than enough.

Either way, commissioners are talking to lawyers and trying to figure out what they should do next. They hope to have everything settled by July 1, Commissioner LaDon Linde told YH-R.

In the meantime, we wish them good luck.

And we sincerely hope that whatever they decide, they will place the health, well-being and safety of Yakima County residents above all other concerns.

The health of our children, our parents and ourselves is perhaps the most important thing we entrust to public servants. It’s far too important to be subject to the whims of local politics.


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