The conservative majority of the Sedgwick County Commission has defended its recent vote to cut nearly $50,000 for the community health assessment program by disparaging the value of collecting and measuring health data and by condemning bureaucracy generally. Now the same commissioners want to mandate that the health department ask and record the citizenship status of everyone who gets an immunization, checkup, disease screening or other service at the department starting in January – new data collection on more than 40,000 individuals a year. “There is nothing wrong with getting data,” Commissioner Jim Howell said about the citizenship inquiry. But that clearly was not the majority commissioners’ view of the community health improvement plan, which has used county-collected data on major public health problems to help county staff, hospitals and other organizations identify strategies to address them. Kansas Department of Health and Environment attorneys are exploring whether it will jeopardize federal funding if Sedgwick County starts asking citizenship status. – Rhonda Holman
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