Americans’ Thoughts on the Role of the United States in Global Health: Foundation Survey

May 24th, 2012

This week, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a survey that aimed to find out what Americans think about the country’s role in global health. The February 2012 telephone poll asked a variety of questions, including whether US spending on global health is at an appropriate level. Other questions went beyond health to explore, for example, foreign aid in general.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), an operating foundation, has offices in Menlo Park, California, and Washington, DC. It maintains an online gateway on US Global Health Policy, which is chock-full of data, KFF publications, news, a “policy tracker” describing “the latest action” from Congress and the Obama administration, webcasts, a helpful glossary, and more—all centered on global health.

For many years, the foundation has focused special attention on South Africa. Through its Program for Health and Development in South Africa, it continues its longstanding commitment to help the country “develop the people, plans and programs to aid in establishing a more equitable national health system and a successful democracy.”

Now back to the survey results!

On May 21, the KFF released a survey report, 2012 Survey of Americans on the U.S. Role in Global Health. Designed and analyzed by the foundation and carried out by Braun Research under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, the survey focused on efforts by the United States to improve health in developing countries. (For detailed information on the survey [methodology and toplines], see page 26–41 of the report.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Joplin, Missouri, Tornado: Director’s Cut; How a Foundation Has Been Helping

May 22nd, 2012

The tragedy that occurred in Joplin in May 2011 is back in the news as its anniversary rolls around. This week, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of Joplin High School. The twister arrived just after the 2011 graduation ceremony, completely destroying the school. The new school is supposed to open in August 2014, according to the school system’s website.

This post describes a new film released by the Missouri Foundation for Health on May 17. It shows how people and organizations in the small southwest Missouri city of Joplin are collaborating “to build a stronger, healthier community,” the funder says.

The sixteen-minute film is titled “Who We Are Now—Joplin: One Year Later.” In case you somehow missed this disaster or have forgotten what it is all about, an Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale) 5 tornado hit this community—161 people died, and $2 billion in damage resulted, the funder said.

The Missouri Foundation for Health, a statewide philanthropy based in St. Louis, produced this film containing interviews with survivors of the storm, health professionals (including the executive director of the Joplin Community Clinic and the vice president of clinical services at the Ozark Center, which provides behavioral health services), and other key community figures. Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias: What Are Foundations Doing to Increase Knowledge and Prevent Suffering?

May 18th, 2012

This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a national plan to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act, legislation that was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress (yes, you read that correctly!) in 2010 required HHS to come up with a plan, said a press release I received from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Collins cosponsored the legislation with former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).

The press release notes that an estimated 5.4 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease. Beyond the suffering that this chronic disease causes, “it costs the United States $183 billion a year, primarily in nursing home and other long-term care costs,” the release said. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, according to the National Institute on Aging.

I would guess that if someone in your family does not suffer from Alzheimer’s, you have a friend whose parent or grandparent has gone down that path.

Here are a just a few quick examples of what foundations are supporting in the area of prevention and research on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Read the rest of this entry »

Foundation Funding to Eliminate Food Deserts and to Improve Oral Health

May 15th, 2012

The May GrantWatch column in Health Affairs focuses on efforts of foundations around the United States to address the problems of ‘food deserts’—low-income communities where there are limited locations for residents to buy reasonably priced fresh fruits and vegetables. The topic of food deserts can be controversial in some quarters: Did you see the recent article in the New York Times on this topic? And how about this article in the Chicago Tribune, which quotes a food policy researcher’s blog criticizing the Times article?

In the April issue, my GrantWatch column focused on oral health: how foundations are supporting efforts to expand access to dental care and to prevent dental disease. Read the rest of this entry »

Should California Establish a Basic Health Program for Certain Low-Income Residents?

May 10th, 2012

California is considering whether to establish a Basic Health Program, an option under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that would cover those who are earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level and who are ineligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To finance the Basic Health Program, the federal government would pay funds to the state that the feds would otherwise put toward coverage under the California Health Benefit Exchange. Legislation to establish a Basic Health Program in the state (Senate Bill 703, introduced by Sen. Ed Hernandez [D-West Covina, District 24]) is pending. What the Basic Health Program would mean for California’s residents and health care stakeholders was the subject of a California HealthCare Foundation briefing, held in Sacramento on April 27.

The implications of a Basic Health Program are anything but straightforward. The interdependency of the new Basic Health Program and the Exchange—combined with other program changes to roll out in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act—makes analyzing the Basic Health Program option exceedingly challenging. To help bring clarity, in 2011 the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) commissioned Mercer to study the financial feasibility of the Basic Health Program option for California; then, in a separate line of inquiry, we funded the Institute for Health Policy Solutions to explore the effect of income volatility on Basic Health Program eligibility. (The researchers were John Graves, Rick Curtis, and Jon Gruber.) Each analysis offered important perspectives on a subset of Basic Health Program considerations.

Because California policy staff and stakeholders continued to raise questions about the Basic Health Program’s impact, the CHCF commissioned the consulting firm HTMS to develop a broad framework for analyzing the implications of the Basic Health Program. Its research, based on stakeholder interviews and a review of previous analysis, was presented and discussed at the April 27 briefing. Read the rest of this entry »

Foundation Convenes Statewide Conference on End-of-Life Care

May 4th, 2012

GrantWatch Blog asked the author, a staffer at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, in Pittsburgh, to report on a conference that the funder and the Coalition for Quality at End of Life convened this spring.

Readmissions Reduction. Health Information Technology. Patient-Centered Medical Home. Cost Effectiveness. Best Practice. Provider Education. Workforce Training. Care Transitions. Public-Private Partnerships. Policy and Advocacy. Consumer and Family Engagement.

Does this sound like the 2012 List of Top Health Care Buzzwords?

You wouldn’t expect that they would all be raised or could all be addressed in a single meeting. But all of those issues (and more) were part of the recent statewide meeting of Closure: Changing Expectations for Care at End of Life, a Jewish Healthcare Foundation initiative. The foundation and the Western Pennsylvania-based Coalition for Quality at End of Life convened the meeting, which was held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Over the course of a day and a half, nearly 100 physicians, nurses, clergy, policy makers, advocates, social service professionals, and consumers came together to engage on, define, discuss, and debate issues around care at end of life. Many of those who came together didn’t know each other on Day One, but left on Day Two having reached consensus on issues and having expressed a shared desire to work together to advance a vision and implement practical solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

In Memoriam: E. Richard Brown. Revisiting What He Wrote for the GrantWatch Section of Health Affairs

May 2nd, 2012

I was on vacation this past week. When I returned, I saw an e-alert from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Health Policy Research with just “E. Richard Brown” in the subject line. The e-alert delivered the sad news that a few days earlier in April, Brown, known to all as “Rick,” had died unexpectedly at age seventy, while delivering a speech in Kentucky. He “suffered a devastating stroke,” the center said.

In remembrance of this bright and talented professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, who was also founding director emeritus of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, I share with readers links to the two pieces he wrote for the GrantWatch section of Health Affairs, one of which was among the most popular posts ever on this blog.  Let me also add that I found him to be a very nice person to work with—conscientious and inquisitive.  Rick Brown will certainly be missed.


Here is a link to Rick Brown’s February (2012) GrantWatch Blog post: “Sustaining and Extending Health Care Reform: Perspectives on the ACA [Affordable Care Act of 2010] from California.” He wrote here about a symposium at the UCLA Center on Health Policy Research. The symposium also honored his work as the center’s founding director. Click on his name to read more about his background, which includes being principal investigator of the well-known California Health Interview Survey (CHIS).

Read an obituary on the CHIS website.

He also was among the coauthors of a July 2006 GrantWatch peer-reviewed paper, “Can We Trust Population Surveys to Count Medicaid Enrollees and the Uninsured?” (The lead author of this paper was Jennifer Kincheloe.)


The university has set up a website at which people can write remembrances of Rick Brown:

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