On Thursday, February 28, 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will launch a non-partisan commission to identify and recommend practical solutions that address the many non-medical influences on health and improve opportunities for more Americans to make healthier choices. Mark McClellan, former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and current director of the Engelberg Center for Healthcare Reform at the Brookings Institution, and Alice Rivlin, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Greater Washington Research Program, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, will co-chair the commission.

At the Feb. 28 kick-off event, from 9:30 – 11:00 AM at the Columbus Club in Union Station, Washington, D.C., RWJF will release a comprehensive report detailing differences in health, how social factors contribute to these differences, and how they impact America’s economic strength. Leading pollsters Bill McInturff and Anna Greenberg will release a public opinion survey highlighting Americans’ views regarding health gaps and what factors they think most affect their health. RWJF will also announce the full slate of commissioners. For more information about the event, contact Nick Seaver at 301-652-1558. 

The launch of this new commission will also launch a month of much attention to the issue of health disparities. On March 11, Health Affairs will release a thematic issue on disparities. And on March 27, PBS will broadcast the first installment of Unnatural Causes, a four-part documentary that investigates how the social conditions in which we are born, live and work profoundly affect our health and longevity. The series is produced by California Newsreel with Vital Pictures, Inc.