March 28, 2011

County Health Dept Proposes Unfunded Mandate

Two physicians who serve on the Niagara County Board of Health are advocating for blood tests for lead exposure for all children entering school. The doctors, Jerome Ulatowski II of Lewiston and Thomas Hughes of Lockport, plan to ask the state to pass the mandate. I'm sure they're going to go on to say that it's all about the kids, as if we don't hear that excuse enough.

Let's agree on one point: lead is bad. But the two bureaucrats never talk about the cost associated with such a directive; a cost that inevitably will be forced upon the taxpayers of Niagara County. Now, I'm not sure how many kids enter school every year, but I'd think it'd be safe to assume that it's in the thousands. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for a standard examination that any competent pediatrician would perform?

The fact that these two individuals would propose such an unfunded mandate without any discussion of the associated costs is disconcerting. Let's call it the way it is: these guys are doctors. They are in business to make money. They know that if this mandate is passed, it will push more patients through the door. Frankly, it is the epitome of self-serving.

If they truly are concerned with the issue of lead poisoning, let them create a non-profit coalition that will conduct the screenings free of charge, not a program that will be subsidized by the federal, state or county governments.

We're assuming that any further discussion of this issue will include the county legislature. We can only hope that the majority of Republicans, who were elected on their belief in smaller, less intrusive government, will stick to the ideals.

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