People Post: Promotions, a New CEO, and New Board Members at Foundations around the Country

January 31st, 2013

It is time for another People Post with news of comings and goings at foundations. Also, watch for more people news in my GrantWatch column in the February issue of Health Affairs—it will be released next week!

Roger Fine, former corporate vice president and general counsel of Johnson & Johnson, has been elected chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) board of trustees. He is now a general partner at Windham Venture Partners, a venture capital firm. Fine succeeds Tom Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey, as chairman.

And while I am on the topic of the RWJF, the foundation has elected Brenda Davis as the newest trustee on its board. She is also a former Johnson & Johnson executive. In addition, she served as a cabinet member and chief of policy and planning during Kean’s second term as governor. Davis is a former chair of the Wilderness Society.

Matt Hirschfeld, a pediatric hospitalist and medical director of Maternal Child Health Services at Alaska Native Medical Center, is a new member of the Rasmuson Foundation’s board of directors. The Rasmuson Foundation is located in Anchorage, Alaska.

While I am on the subject of the Rasmuson Foundation, a January press release noted that three staffers there were promoted: Sammye Pokryfki to vice president of programs, Cassandra Stalzer to communications director, and Aleesha Towns-Bain to program officer. Towns-Bain’s responsibilities include managing Recover Alaska, a joint initiative of the foundation, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Mat-Su Health Foundation, and the State of Alaska Department of Health and Human Services. Read a May 2011 post about Recover Alaska on the foundation’s blog.

Yanique Redwood has been named president and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation, located in Washington, D.C. According to her bio on the funder’s website, she previously worked for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in Baltimore, where she managed its health and mental health grants portfolio and led the evaluation of Evidence2Success. Her title was senior associate, Evidence-Based Practice Group. Redwood has also worked for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is the Consumer Health Foundation’s second leader and succeeds Margaret O’Bryon, who led the foundation for fourteen years.

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Reconsidering Primary Care: A View from a Foundation President

January 30th, 2013

The author is the president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, a statewide funder located in San Francisco.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act , there has been a persistent, urgent call to produce more primary care physicians. With many provisions of the health reform law to be implemented less than a year from now, experts continue to worry about unsustainable doctor-patient ratios, as the ranks of primary care physicians accepting new patients dwindles and the insured patient population grows.

However, both the challenge and truth is that as a practical matter, it is not possible to fill the provider gap by 2014 even with broad support from philanthropy. In this time of rapid change, foundations’ dollars are needed for a range of short-term implementation activities and longer term system improvements. Training a new doctor can take up to eleven years of post-secondary education and we have only months to increase the system’s capacity. Instead of focusing on the number of providers, it is time we looked at our system of primary care from an entirely new perspective.

Blue Shield of California Foundation has invested in research about alternative primary care models to stimulate a different type of conversation about ensuring access to high-quality, affordable primary care. We have heard directly from our partners working in community health centers that they are actively seeking new solutions and approaches to primary care. We have also heard from low-income Californians who will receive coverage through Medi-Cal or California’s health insurance exchange that they are open to new service delivery models. Our goal in initiating this conversation around the redesign of primary care is to generate innovative models and concrete recommendations for safety net-providers in California and across the country.

Within the current system, it’s often difficult for low-income families and individuals to access health care, even when they’re eligible for coverage. Already, patients travel long distances to doctors, wait months for appointments, and use emergency rooms to receive basic services. With 16 million people newly eligible for Medicaid when health reform is fully implemented, we can expect low-income patients to face even more challenges, or go without needed care. Read the rest of this entry »

SCAN Foundation CEO Envisions Opportunity for Long-Term Care Solutions in New Commission

January 24th, 2013

This post first appeared on Health Affairs Blog on January 23.

Great struggles sometimes result in unexpected opportunities.  In the waning moments of 2012, Congress remained in session to bridge partisan divides to solve the fiscal cliff impasse with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). Signing the ATRA into law also achieved policy change on items far beyond the tax code.

For example, the new law repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) provision in the Affordable Care Act, which would have created a new, national, voluntary, long-term care insurance product.  Yet the problem of how to best finance and deliver care for our vulnerable loved ones has been looming for years and endures.  As a much-needed acknowledgment of this, the Congress created a new Commission to propose policy solutions to address the long-term care challenges that a growing number of Americans face.

Given the sheer magnitude of this issue, the current political climate, and the short time span for turning around a meaningful legislative proposal (six months), the Commission’s charge is nothing short of colossal.  However, its creation in the wake of the CLASS repeal is an important step towards system transformation that will enable Americans to age with dignity, independence, and choice.  The Commission will consist of 15 appointees, nine Democrats and six Republicans, to be named in the next month, who will report back to Congress by the summer.  They must devise a plan on the financing and delivery of a comprehensive and coordinated system that ensures available long-term services and supports for people in need today, and options for Americans to plan for their future needs.

Public policy has moved little to address the long-term care needs of Americans since the 1965 passage of Medicare (a well-funded acute health care program), Medicaid (a modestly funded medical assistance program), and the Older Americans Act (a poorly funded supportive services program).  While all of these programs were part of a conceptual vision to care for those most in need, the differential funding levels and prioritization have contributed to the challenges we face in long-term care financing and delivery today.

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New in the Journal: Foundation Funding to Educate, Train, and Expand the Health Professions Workforce

January 18th, 2013

My GrantWatch column in the recently released January 2013 issue of Health Affairs focuses on the workforce and foundations’ efforts to strengthen it. The column provides a snapshot of what foundations around the United States are funding.

A variety of funders are interested in health professions workforce topics. In my small sampling, it appears that interprofessional education and training is becoming a popular funding area. In interprofessional education, students from more than one health profession learn together.

I mention two projects focusing on shortages of certain types of health professionals. Foundations have also funded research to see if there will even be a shortage of primary care professionals—whether or not a shortage will occur, especially as federal health reform rolls out, can be a controversial topic.

Graduate medical education is the focus of an Institute of Medicine study funded by several foundations, including the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and others.

In my research for the column I came across a funder that I was not familiar with: the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations. It awarded an interesting grant to the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding to improve care for people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

Some foundations are interested in helping the nursing profession. Read in the column about some efforts by the RWJF, a major player in this area, and an evaluation of a John A. Hartford Foundation geriatric nursing initiative.

And I do not just focus on doctors and nurses. Read about a generous grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies. This grant to PHI focuses on the direct care workforce, which includes personal care aides, nurse assistants, and home care aides. I also mention a Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco, project to train medical assistants. The Hitachi Foundation is the funder. In case you didn’t know, medical assistants work in one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, and they are among the lowest-paid health care workers.

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Serving Pregnant Women: An Upstream Approach to Preventing Cavities

January 16th, 2013

A foundation in Seattle that focuses on oral health has been working to go where their partners in health have long focused: on addressing the health of children before they are born.

The mission of the Washington Dental Service Foundation is to prevent dental disease and improve overall health for residents of the state of Washington. We focus on prevention and target the majority of our efforts toward young children ages 0-6 and seniors; however, we are now taking our prevention efforts to children even farther upstream by addressing the dental health of pregnant women.

Why? Mothers who have cavities are likely to pass along cavity-causing bacteria to their babies, increasing the chances of their babies getting cavities. Conversely, mothers with good oral health and knowledge are in the best position to protect their children from cavities.

With this in mind, the Washington Dental Service Foundation launched its Prenatal Initiative in 2010, and we are rolling it out in three phases: (1) teaching dentists to manage the care of and treat their pregnant patients; (2) partnering with community organizations to deliver oral health information and messages to pregnant women that motivate them to get dental care; and (3) teaching prenatal health providers to provide oral health education, screenings, and referrals.

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Post on Integrating Medical and Behavioral Care Leads GrantWatch Blog’s 2012 Most-Read List

January 10th, 2013

Happy New Year! We compiled a list of the ten most-read posts during 2012, in case you missed any of these.

The most-read GrantWatch Blog post in 2012 was on the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum held in September in Lexington. We invited author Gabriela Alcalde, who joined this funder’s staff in 2012 as health policy director, to blog about the forum’s highlights. Mary Takach of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) was among the speakers. Integrating medical and behavioral care, the topic of the forum and her post, is a subject that a number of foundations are interested in (see my GrantWatch column in the September 2012 issue of Health Affairs).

Posts on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s commitment to funding research and evaluation; views on the Affordable Care Act from speakers at a California symposium; what philanthropy should do to help implement the federal health reform law; and other topics also appear on this top-ten list, which follows. Health reform was the topic of four of the ten posts.

As you will see, GrantWatch Blog has included some well-known figures in health policy among its growing list of authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Need Money for Your Research? Try Crowdfunding!

January 7th, 2013

Crowdfunding is hot. What is it, and why should funders of health services research keep an eye on its development?

Let’s start with what crowdfunding is. The term itself is a variation on “crowdsourcing,” which entails putting out a problem (often a technological one) for input from either a select audience (such as one’s peers, perhaps via a professional discussion list) or the general public (some food products companies are using crowdsourcing to drum up interest in new flavors or food items by seeking suggestions for what to call them).

In crowdfunding, the problem to be solved is usually a straightforward one: lack of money. Given that health funders are in the business of distributing money for research or health promotion projects, it behooves them to familiarize themselves with crowdfunding, which is becoming a sort of DIY (do-it-yourself) funding mechanism for all kinds of projects.

Many crowdfunding campaigns have nothing to do with health services research and can range from pickles businesses at the farmers’ market level, to fashion design, to product development of bicycle lights, can openers, table lamps, and so on. But there have been some fascinating forays into crowdfunding in the health sciences, and it is those to which I will now turn.

There are an increasing number of platforms for crowdfunding, some of them niche sites that serve small, specialized audiences, and some of them enormous operations that cover a vast range of topics and that are some of the most popular destinations on the Web.

One of the largest is Kickstarter. One recently funded project illustrates a way in which a few researchers of health-related topics are using Kickstarter to raise funds (even though health it is not a designated category on Kickstarter). In this case, the project revolved around a book project on bedbugs!

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