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Iowa Public Health Modernization

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can help me if I have questions about the Iowa Public Health Standards or Public Health Modernization?

Contact Joy Harris at the Iowa Department of Public Health by phone at 515-281-3377.

Who is leading Modernizing Public Health in Iowa?

Modernizing Public Health in Iowa takes place through the collaboration of local and state public health partners.

Is Iowa the only state to develop state public health standards?

Iowa is not alone. At least 21 states are engaged in setting their own standards or in developing performance improvement initiatives to improve and protect the health of the public within their own boundaries.

Why did Iowans develop their own standards rather than use the National Public Health Performance Standards developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

The National Public Health Performance Standards are designed to provide an assessment of the public health system. What was needed in Iowa was the assurance of a basic level of service for every Iowan. Standards written for Iowa by Iowans could accomplish this.

I've heard that there is a national movement to accredit state and local public health departments. Is this true?

It is true. The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is working now to develop a national accreditation system for state and local public health departments.

Are the standards mandatory?

No. Meeting the standards is voluntary.

Do the standards mean that the designated local public health agency is responsible for providing all direct public health services?

No. The designated local public health agency is not expected to provide all direct public health services in a jurisdiction, but will work with partners to make sure that services are provided.

Won't local government have to pay to implement the public health standards?

It is hoped that all levels of government (federal, state, and local) will share in the costs for local public health. The Work Group for Modernizing Public Health in Iowa will not suggest a level of funding from local government. Local boards of health and boards of supervisors will need to determine how to fund the public health infrastructure and services required by the public health standards. It is the intention of the work group to provide ideas about how this could be done if a county is interested.

If the Public Health Modernization Act is signed into law, how will that affect me?

Upon passing of the Public Health Modernization Act, a timeline to begin a voluntary accreditation system will be put into place. The standards will need to be approved by the Public Health Advisory Council and an accrediting body will need to be named. These are to happen by October 1, 2009 and Jan. 2, 2010 respectively. A pilot of the accreditation process at the local and state level will occur prior to July 1, 2011. Finally, a county may apply for accreditation beginning Jan. 2, 2012.

Who is going to help the local board of health understand all of this?

The Increase Knowledge implementation committee is working to provide resources and educational tools for local board of health members, local boards of supervisors, environmental health practitioners, and public health administrators. These things will be posted on the Modernization Act website.

Ultimately will we be forced to do this?

So much is unknown at this point; it is not possible to say.

How much is it going to cost?

At this point this is unknown. What we do know is that every local public health department does their budget a little bit differently. The Funding implementation committee is first working to try and determine how much is being spent on public health currently.