Opinion Columns & Blogs

Why health departments don’t ask about legal status

The Sedgwick County Commission majority thinks it’s no big deal for the county health department to ask about the immigration status of the people it serves. But the National Association of County and City Health Officials is unaware of any other public health department in the country that questions people about their legal status, Associated Press reported. The reason is that the departments don’t want to discourage people from getting medical care, which helps protect the overall public health. “While immunizations are provided to individuals, the purpose is to prevent transmission of communicable diseases,” said Michelle Ponce, executive director of the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment agrees. “KDHE does not want to deter people from getting the services needed to protect the public health of Kansas,” spokeswoman Sara Belfry said. – Phillip Brownlee