"The county says they're using this fee to investigate all deaths so society knows what these people have died from, but there's no report issued," said Clark. "The death certificate doesn't say anything special. They investigate a few deaths that look suspicious. That's a part of basic government obligations and we shouldn't be charged an extra fee for basic services."
"Whether they live for an hour or they're 93 years old -- what is the medical examiners job? Should it be a separate tax or part of your standard taxes?" asked Clark.
According to Apa, at least six counties in Washington review all cremations and Utah has a similar system. In Utah, a review of a death would happen if a body would potentially not be available for investigation later. For example, a case would be reviewed if there was a cremation, or if a body were to be shipped out of the state for burial.
"The $50 is not the issue," said Clark. "We can afford to pay that. The issue is, is this what government should be doing?"
Says Apa, "Our heart goes out to them in terms of the grief they're experiencing. The medical examiner has an important role to play in these situations to ensure that every family has assurance in knowing that the death of their loved one has been appropriately reviewed and that the cause and manner of death is accurate."
But Clark sees a slippery slope. "Where does this type of things stop?" he asked. "Do they start charging a service fee for the fire department to come out? Where do these service fees start and stop? Is every service of government going to be taxed?"