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How Philanthropy Is Helping with Health Reform, Part II



September 30th, 2010

In last week’s post, I marked the six-month anniversary of the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I continue here our selected sampling of what philanthropy is doing to help with health reform. Also included today are some related resources on health reform, including a tongue-in-cheek glossary of health care terms (which I have been intending to mention for a while).

Again, thanks so much to Grantmakers In Health for leads it provided.

Announcements of foundation efforts related to health reform:

“The California Endowment Launches Online Initiative to Highlight Significant Changes to Health Insurance Laws Going into Effect on September 23,” California Endowment press release, September 20. This funder states that “few consumers understand” the new health reform law “or how to benefit” from it. As part of a broader statewide education effort, the endowment has launched a web site, called GetCoveredCA.org, which is focused on young adults (under age twenty-six).

California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) Health Reform and Public Programs Initiative. Marian Mulkey directs this initiative, which was announced May 25. Its stated goal is “to support implementation of health reform and advance the effectiveness of California’s public coverage programs.” Its specific objectives are (1) to “advance state efforts on coverage expansion,” through analysis and technical assistance; and (2) to “support the evolution of Medi-Cal [California Medicaid] and other publicly financed coverage programs.” This work will include informing key state stakeholders regarding the creation of a health insurance exchange in California, advancing streamlined enrollment in public insurance and federally subsidized private plans, and identifying ways that Medicaid can better serve both new and current enrollees. One of several approaches that the CHCF will use in this initiative is to monitor California’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and report back to the public. Other CHCF staffers working on the initiative include Chris Perrone, Len Finocchio, and Teri Boughton, who is based in Sacramento.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a national operating foundation, launched the  Health Reform Source, its newest “online gateway,” on September 21. The gateway has features that explain the basics of the Affordable Care Act, “in-depth analysis of policy issues in implementation, and quick and easy access to relevant data, studies and developments,” according to a press release. For example, research and analysis by KFF staff experts will be included, “with a special area of emphasis on the 50 states as they proceed with the implementation of the law.” The Health Reform Source also contains Poll Watch, a weekly round-up of surveys related to the health reform law.

However, my favorite part of the entire KFF health reform gateway page is “Health Reform Hits Main Street,” an animated short video, which, the release says, is “designed to explain the health reform law to an American public still confused by how it works.” Narrated by news commentator Cokie Roberts, who is a member of the KFF board, the nine-minute video features animated YouToons figures playing various stakeholders ranging from Uncle Sam to insurance company representatives to average Americans. One of the funniest scenes shows an overly bronzed man coming out of a tanning salon and having to pay the new tax on tanning services, which is already being levied under the Affordable Care Act. Uncle Sam then gives the salon customer a slap on his tender back!

The Rhode Island Foundation was a member of the Healthy RI Task Force, “a community coalition of more than 150 health care leaders and business professionals,” according to a press release. Formed by Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts (D), the panel released its report Healthy RI Task Force: Getting National Health Reform Right for Rhode Island at a press conference on September 23.

Owen Heleen, the foundation’s representative on the task force, was a speaker at the event in Providence. He stated, “The Rhode Island Foundation is committed to continuing our work with a wide variety of partners to work to build a stronger system of primary health care.” He specifically mentioned the funder’s “loan forgiveness program for primary care doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.” Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Medical Society have joined forces with the foundation on this program to increase the number of such health professionals in the state and lower health care costs. The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority administers the program. As we have learned, more primary care providers will be needed as federal health reform is implemented.

Read Heleen’s April 2010 post on GrantWatch Blog: “Bending the Cost Curve: Rhode Island Looks North.”

Commentary:

“Health Reform’s Six-Month Checkup,” Drew Altman, president and CEO of the KFF, “Pulling It Together” monthly column, September 2010. Altman says, “The politics of health reform remain as ugly as ever, but implementation of the law’s benefits and changes has been a success story so far.”

Events:

“Affordable Care Act: Impacts and Opportunities for Disparities Research,” AcademyHealth and the Aetna Foundation, webinar focused on policy making, Tuesday, October 5, 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. This webinar is part of their free Disparities Research Webinar Series. (A second policy webinar is scheduled for November 18.) Read more about both events here. Click here to register by Friday, October 1.

“Paying for Health Reform: The Imperative of Cost Containment,” New York State Health (NYSHealth) Foundation conference, in New York City, Tuesday, November 2, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Glenn Steele, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System. The event is free, but those who wish to attend should register here; space is limited. This event is for consumers, insurers, policy makers, providers, and researchers, the foundation says.

NYSHealth commented in an e-alert: “After decades of rapid growth in health care costs, ballooning Federal deficits and State budget shortfalls make cost containment more urgent than ever.” It added, “Without thoughtful approaches to lowering the actual costs of providing quality care, policymakers and providers will be tempted to adopt blunt, across-the-board cuts that could impair quality of care or reduce access.”

Read a July 2010 GrantWatch article in Health Affairs, by David Sandman of NYSHealth and Anthony Kovner of New York University, about the foundation’s program on health care cost containment at the state level.

Recently released reports:

Health Insurance Exchanges and the Affordable Care Act: Eight Difficult Issues, by Timothy (“Tim”) Stoltzfus Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law, released September 30. Funded by the Commonwealth Fund. Jost makes recommendations to state and federal policy makers.

Implementing Health Reform: Funders and Advocates Respond to the Challenge, Grantmakers In Health, August 2010. Funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Public Welfare Foundation, with additional support from the California Endowment. Barbara Masters of MastersPolicyConsulting and Amanda Rounsaville (both formerly of the endowment) conducted the interviews for the report and wrote it.

State Implementation of National Health Reform: Harnessing Federal Resources to Meet State Policy Goals, by Stan Dorn of the Urban Institute, July 2010 (updated September 2010). Dorn prepared this report for State Coverage Initiatives, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program administered by AcademyHealth. Among the chapters is “Fundamental Questions about Health Insurance Exchanges.”

Recently awarded grants:

“MeHAF Grants Help Nonprofits Inform Maine People about Health Reform,” Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) press release, July 23. This funder awarded a total of $344,492 to ten grantees; among them are the Maine Primary Care Association, in Augusta, and Eastern Agency on Aging, in Bangor.

“Northwest Health Foundation Provides Health Grants to Uncommon Partnerships,” Northwest Health Foundation press release, August 25. This funder, located in Portland, Oregon, awarded a total of $500,000 to eleven partnership grantees. The grants target those most affected by a lack of health insurance. Each project awarded funding “focuses on advocacy during the 2011 Oregon legislative session,” the release points out. Here is an example of one partnership that received a grant: Cascadia Behavioral HealthCare, the Oregon Health Action Campaign, and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Multnomah County. The groups are partnering to engage “consumers of mental health services” in the health reform process.

Related resources to read:

“Americans Still Confused, Divided about Health Law,” Lexie Verdon, Kaiser Health News, September 27. This article mentions both a KFF Tracking Poll and an Associated Press poll. Kaiser Health News is affiliated with the KFF.

“Dr. Contrarian’s Glossary of Health Care Terms,” Roger Hughes, “The Drift” column, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives (SLHI). The contents for this column, published this spring, purportedly came from Dr. Contrarian, “purveyor of all things wild and wacky.” The good doctor explains things so that “even the not-so-smart can understand”! SLHI is a public foundation in Phoenix, Arizona. Add some humor to your day!

“Six Things to Know about Health Care Coverage: A Study of the Media and the Health Care Debate,” Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, June 21. The Pew Charitable Trusts, based in Philadelphia, funds the project. To clarify: this report is about media coverage, not insurance coverage.

“Study: Health Reform Law Will Hike Premiums Between 1 and 2 Percent,” Mike Lillis, Healthwatch blog of The Hill, September 27. The title of this post refers to results of a Hewitt Associates report; according to Lillis, the report said that the “reform law will have only a modest impact on the insurance premium hikes projected to hit employers next year.”

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