Only a doctor can head Illinois' public health department. Now, without any opposition, the state Senate approved a measure removing that requirement, as long as a licensed physician is hired to oversee certain regulatory and medical areas. Director of the Illinois Public Health Association Jim Nelson says local health departments are headed by non-MD, public health professionals:
"It gives the governor a good pool of people to choose from. And honestly right now, we're having difficulty. There's some built in characteristics to that, the level of salary for the director's position versus the salaries that are available to MD's." Legislators acknowledge Illinois has in the past flip-flopped on the requirement, changing the rules in one case to guarantee a particular non-doctor would get the appointment, then lifting it so a doctor would get the job, but advocates of the change insist that isn't the case this time. Earlier this month Quinn tapped an MD, Doctor La Mar Hasbrouck, who'd been a county public health director in upstate New York, as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He'll make 150 thousand dollars.
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