HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Home is contemplating a invoice that may make selections by native well being boards in response to crises topic to approval by elected officers.
Below present Montana regulation, the boards, that are appointed by elected officers, have the authority to subject guidelines to handle public well being crises, together with the pandemic. The invoice would give county and metropolis commissioners the ability to amend or rescind these guidelines.
Proponents of the invoice stated throughout a committee listening to Thursday it might restore confidence in public well being edicts. Opponents stated permitting elected officers to intervene in well being board selections may enable politics to overpower science in selections concerning pressing well being issues.
The invoice comes after months of angst amongst some Montana residents over what they’ve known as arbitrary and unfair well being mandates which have led some enterprise to shut. Some native well being officers in Montana have resigned after encountering an absence of assist from elected officers for his or her efforts to curb the virus.
Cindi Hamilton, an proprietor of a horseback using enterprise, stated many small companies have been “utterly killed by the whim of power-drunk county well being officers.”
Matt Kelley, public well being officer for Gallatin County, stated the pandemic has led to “traumatic, excruciating adversity” for native well being officers and boards of well being.
“It’s considerably painful and discouraging to listen to these efforts demonized by people who find themselves calling us ‘energy thirsty’ as a result of the individuals who go into public well being and the individuals who volunteer to serve on boards of well being are virtually at all times motivated by the spirit of public service,” Kelley stated.
County and metropolis commissions appoint native well being board members, and have the ability to take away them, that means they have already got enter into the general public well being course of, Kelley stated.
“If what we’re after is native management, (it) already exists in each county within the state of Montana.”
Margaret Novak, a property proprietor in Nice Falls, spoke in opposition to the invoice, saying, “I’d no extra ask a county commissioner to find out coverage with respect to the well being care of me and my neighbors, than I’d ask my doctor to maintain getting the highway plowed as much as the Canadian border north of city.”
Invoice sponsor Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, stated the intention of the invoice is to not strip well being officers of their energy. As an alternative, he stated it’s meant to revive the general public’s confidence within the work of well being boards.
“The legitimacy of our constitutional authorities is beneath assault these days,” Bedey stated. “This specific invoice is a modest effort to shore up the legitimacy of the exhausting work that our public well being officers are doing.”
The Home Native Authorities Committee is predicted to vote on the invoice subsequent week.