Funding Dispute Affects Plans To Develop Office of Minority Health in Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday examined a dispute over funding to establish a local Office of Minority Health. In March, City Manager Milton Dohoney recommended that the Cincinnati City Council approve an ordinance that would have allowed the City of Cincinnati Health Department to apply for and accept a $69,023 grant from HHS to establish the center. He said the city would supply $17,489 in matching funds.
The ordinance stated that the center "would be a natural partner for collaboration with other interested government, community, professional and academic entities working on the problem of differential health status [and] outcomes based on race, ethnicity and other factors." The City Council rejected the grant because members said "it only would have created a new bureaucracy and required matching money," the Enquirer reports. Council members also said that the not-for profit Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati has the same mission as a potential minority health office and receives $150,000 annually from the city. The center focuses on obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, in the black community.
Christopher Smitherman, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the council's rejection of the grant "immoral," adding that the initial grant could have led to $200,000 in additional funds over two years. Council member Laketa Cole, however, said there was no guarantee that the city would have received the additional $200,000.
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R) has asked HHS for additional information on the grant and has asked the state, which received the funding, not to give the grant money to any other city until that information has been received.
Council member Chris Bortz said that some city officials were investigating whether the city could accept the grant and give it to the Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati. Smitherman said he opposes such a plan (Prendergast, Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/21).