The Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Christy Curwick Hoff, MPH
Health Policy Analyst
Governor’s Interagency Council on
Health Disparities
Washington State Board of Health
PO Box 47990                 
Olympia, WA 98504-7990
Phone: (360) 236-4108
Fax: (360) 236-4088
Website: www.healthequity.wa.gov
Organizational Structure/History
The Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities was established by the state legislature in 2006 when it passed and was signed by the Governor as Second Substitute Senate Bill 6197.  The 17-member Council, which is staffed by the State Board of Health, has a chair appointed by the Governor, two public members, and representatives of the following 14 state agencies, boards and commissions:
·         Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
·         Commission on African American Affairs
·         Commission on Hispanic Affairs
·         Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs
·         Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board
·         State Board of Health
·         Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
·         Health Care Authority
·         Department of Health
·         Department of Commerce
·         Department of Agriculture
·         Department of Social and Health Services
·         Department of Ecology
·         Department of Early Learning
Funding for the Council became available in July 2006. By October 2006, the Governor’s office had appointed the chair and two public members; in addition, all agency representatives were appointed, and the State Board of Health had hired additional staff to support the Council. The first meeting of the Council, held in conjunction with a public forum, was on October 20, 2006.
Program Focus/Activities
According to sections 43.20.270 and 43.20.275 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the Council is charged with the following responsibilities:
·       Action plan: By 2012, create a State Action Plan for Eliminating Health Disparities in Washington State. The plan will look at health disparities broadly and will also address a number of diseases and conditions specified in the legislation.
·       Advisory committees: To help with its work, the Council is required to establish advisory committees to address specific issues.
·       Language barriers: The council must--after holding hearings and conducting research--issue recommendations for improving the availability of culturally appropriate health literature and interpretive services within public and private health-related agencies.
·       Communication: The Council will promote communication among state agencies and between state agencies and communities of color, the public sector, and the private sector, to address health disparities.
·       Information gathering: Through public hearings, inquiries, studies, and other efforts at information gathering, the Council will work to understand how the actions of state government ameliorate or exacerbate to health disparities.
·       Health impact reviews: Collaborate with the State Board of Health in the development of health impact reviews requested by the Governor or the Legislature. A Health Impact Review (HIR) is a review of a proposal for a legislative or budgetary change to determine the extent to which the proposal would ameliorate or exacerbate health disparities.
·       Regular updates: The Council must update the Legislature on its progress in 2008, 2010, and 2012. 
In 2007, the Council was awarded a State Partnership Grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. The grant was used to hire a Health Disparities Outreach Coordinator to improve the Council’s capacity to engage communities of color in its work, particularly in the development of an action plan to eliminate health disparities in Washington State and in increasing awareness of health disparities. Through leadership, collaboration, coordination, planning, and the creation of linkages between public and private entities, the Council aims to simultaneously increase the overall capacity of organizations throughout Washington to communicate with hard-to-reach individuals and groups, particularly communities of color, in ways that help eliminate disparities.
Level of Funding Sources
Year                 Federal              State            

FY 2007
FY 2008
FY 2009

In accordance with RCW 43.20.275, the Council was convened by and is staffed by the Washington State Board of Health. With the creation of the Council, Board staff underwent reorganization and hired additional staff to support the Council and to conduct health impact reviews. In 2007, with the receipt of a State Partnership Grant, the Council was able to hire a Health Disparities Outreach Coordinator. In 2009, the Washington State Legislature suspended funding for the health impact reviews through the 2009-2011 biennium.
Currently, the Council is supported by 2.75 FTE and the Health Impact Reviews are supported by 1.1 FTE. See Table 1.
Table 1: State Board of Health Staff Resources for the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities

State Board of Health Staff
Council FTE
Roles and Responsibilities
Health Policy Analyst
Lead policy staff to the Council. Supervises and assists with HIRs.
Supervises outreach activities.
Outreach Coordinator
Improves communication capacity and engages affected communities in the Council’s work.
Executive Director
Provides general supervision and oversight.
Executive Assistant
Oversees budget, payroll, and human resource functions.
Communications Consultant
Supports media relations, publications, and website.
Total FTE:

Recent Publications
·       Washington Multicultural Health Communications Directory, July 2009
·       Health Impact Review: Proposed Cuts to Health Care and Human Services Programs, March 2009
·       Toward a State Action Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities: 2009 Progress Report.
·       Toward a State Action Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities: 2008 Progress Report.
·         Community Forum on Health Equities: Summary of Forum Proceedings, May 2008
·         Health Impact Review: Student Discipline Policies on Restraint, February 2008
·         Health Impact Review: Establishing the Financial Services Intermediary, February 2008
·         Health Impact Review: Public Notices in Language Other Than English, February 2008
·       Summary of Forum Proceedings: Public Forum on Language Culture and Health Care, September 2007.
·       Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities. Brochure, June 2007. http://www.sboh.wa.gov/hdcouncil/Pubs/pubs.htm
·       Health Impact Review: Building Bridges for Dropout Reductions, February 2007
·       Health Impact Review: Financial Incentives to Attract Excellent Teachers for Hard-to-Staff Schools and Subjects, February 2007