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Governor Creates Public Health Commission To Recommend Health System Improvements

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, left, and Gov. Eric Holcomb announce the creation of the Indiana Public Health Commission. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb said health is Indiana’s “Achilles’ heel” – and he’s creating a Public Health Commission to try to improve it. The commission will spend the next year developing recommendations meant to strengthen the state’s public health system.

Indiana routinely ranks among the worst states for health measures, including smoking rate, obesity and funding for public health.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said the new commission will look at the funding, operations and structure of the system, particularly across the state’s 94 local health departments.

“We believe that we’ll be able to identify ways to better support public health, reduce health disparities and ensure that where you live will not be the determining factor with regards to your access of the public health services you can receive,” Box said.

The commission, however, faces an environment in which many Hoosiers don’t believe or trust local health officials, while local elected officials have ignored health departments and state lawmakers have stripped away some of their power.

Holcomb said he and the commission will do what they can.

“What we can do is make sure people have good, localized, trusted, verified state information,” Holcomb said.

The commission will be led by former state Sen. Luke Kenley and former state health commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe. The rest of the 15-member panel will be announced in the coming days.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.