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Collaborating On A Culture Of Health: Buncombe County, North Carolina

December 2nd, 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series written for Health Affairs Blog by local leaders from communities honored with the annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. In 2014, six winning communities were selected by RWJF from more than 250 applicants and celebrated for placing a priority on health and creating powerful partnerships to drive change.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the junction of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers, Asheville, N.C. is graced with natural beauty and an abundance of health and economic resources. But in 2012, many residents of Asheville and the surrounding Buncombe County area were struggling with poverty and chronic illness. So the community responded as advocates, public health experts, community leaders, and business leaders came together to establish a culture of health.

As County Health Director Gibbie Harris explained, “the thing that is really driving us forward is an interest in being the healthiest community in the country… We have people who are interested in social justice, and a desire to improve the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

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New On GrantWatch Blog

November 21st, 2014

Health Affairs GrantWatch Blog brings you news and views of what foundations are funding in health policy and health care.

Here are the most recent posts:

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Health Affairs Briefing: Collaborating For Community Health

October 29th, 2014

Policymakers are paying increasing attention to the relationship between the characteristics of communities and the health of the people living in them. The November 2014 issue of Health Affairs, “Collaborating For Community Health,” examines new possibilities created by alignment of the fields of health and community development.

These possibilities come from both sides, including recent changes in the community development field that have set the stage for the new focus on improving health, as well as new approaches to health care financing that create incentives for improving health outcomes.

You are invited to join us on Wednesday, November 5, at a forum featuring authors from the new issue at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

National Press Club
529 14th Street NW
Washington, DC, 13th Floor


Follow live Tweets from the briefing @Health_Affairs, and join in the conversation with #HA_CommunityHealth.

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Jeffrey Brenner On GrantWatch: The Future For Population Health

February 21st, 2014

In a recent GrantWatch Blog post, Jeffrey Brenner raises the question, “What if Thomas Edison had to write grant proposals to invent the light bulb?” Brenner is a MacArthur fellow, medical director of the Urban Health Institute, and executive director and founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

Brenner uses the Edison analogy to look at current grant funding and population health.

Since 1945 the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federal government agency that funds medical research, has spent $547 billion dollars to cure disease and push the frontiers of medical knowledge. This spending has been supplemented by funding from private foundations. Sadly, despite all of this spending we have little understanding of how to deliver better care at lower cost to every American. At best, in the field of population health, we have a few light bulbs that stay lit for an hour or two, but we lack even basic knowledge to drive this field forward.

With 85 million baby boomers in the midst of retiring and a health care system that consumes 18 percent of our economy, it is not a small problem. We do not understand the fundamental drivers of health care utilization; the basic rules for designing and implementing effective interventions; the best ways to use data to plan, implement, manage, and evaluate interventions; nor how to train staff to run and lead these interventions. Why the lack of progress?

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Health Beyond Health Care: RWJF Commission Issues New Report

January 15th, 2014

Much of the political debate over health reform has focused on the important questions of affordable health insurance coverage and access to medical care. However, medical care is far from the most important factor influencing health, a fact that is at the core of a newly released report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build A Healthier America.

The Commission was initially formed in 2008 and issued 2009 recommendations concerning influences on health such as nutrition, physician activity, and tobacco use. The new report, “Time To Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities,” also focuses on socioeconomic factors; specifically, it recommends increased investments in early childhood development, including universal access to quality early childhood development programs for low-income children under age 5; efforts to promote healthier neighborhoods through collaboration among the health, community development, and finance sectors; and a new orientation for health care providers toward nonmedical determinants of health and working with nonmedical professionals. The report provides examples of successful initiatives in each of these areas.

Most people think about health and health care together, said Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chaired the Commission with Brookings colleague Alice Rivlin, in a webcast marking the report’s release.  But “when you start looking at the evidence, looking at what’s working on the ground to actually have a meaningful impact on the health of people,” you realize that “you can’t get there just by putting more resources into health care.”

The new report signals a renewed emphasis for RWJF on addressing the broad universe of factors beyond health care that affect health. “Over the next year, our foundation is really going to invest in what we’re talking about as a culture of health — that is, how do we come together across sectors to make America healthier,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the foundation.. This post will briefly touch on the report’s recommendations, with more discussion to follow in the coming days via a guest post on Health Affairs Blog and our sister publication, GrantWatch Blog.

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Young Leader Award Winners Announced As RWJF Celebrates Fortieth Anniversary

October 25th, 2012

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on GrantWatch Blog, Health Affairs Blog’s sister blog.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, New Jersey, announced the ten winners of an award for young people with “strong potential for future leadership,” who are age forty or younger and are being recognized “for their exceptional contributions to improving the health of the nation,” according to an October 25 press release. Each winner will receive $40,000; these awards will be presented tomorrow.

This is a one-time awards program and ties in with the RWJF’s fortieth anniversary. As the foundation looked to the past to reflect on its accomplishments as it celebrates its anniversary, it “also wanted to look to the future,” to young leaders, born during the foundation’s existence, who have already achieved early successes and have the potential to improve health and health care in the United States, the RWJF’s president and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, explained in the release.

Here are just a few fun facts about the award winners. These men and women hail from various regions of the United States; six of the ten hold medical degrees, three of the ten have Ph.D. degrees, and one out of the total group has a law degree. As for professional affiliations, one winner runs a nonprofit coalition of faith congregations, based in St. Paul, Minnesota; several are assistant professors. Go here to read the press release with the full list of winners and short descriptions of their work affiliations. You can also view pictures of the winners.

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CHCF’s Mark Smith on Converging Market and Public Health Interests

February 5th, 2010

In an interview in the February issue of Health Affairs, California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) President and CEO Mark Smith reflects on successes and failures in areas where market interest and public interest converge in health care. Smith told Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer: The policy world has built enrollment barriers for people in an incremental […]

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REFORM: 10 Recommendations For Improving Health Care After Katrina

August 31st, 2007

A new report, released August 29 by Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) and funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation, offers ten recommendations for improving how frail and elderly people are cared for during major disasters, such as hurricanes, so as to prevent needless deaths. LuMarie Polivka-West, in an introductory letter to the report–Caring for Vulnerable Elders […]

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BLOG: Global Health Featured On Blog

July 5th, 2007, the philanthropic arm of Google, has just this week launched a blog that will focus on its areas of concern: global public health, climate change, and economic development and poverty.

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GRANTWATCH: Childhood Obesity On The Agenda

April 26th, 2007

The latest edition of Health Affairs’ GrantWatch [free access], highlights the new announcement by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that “it will commit at least $500 million over the next five years” to work on the problem of childhood obesity. Its “goal is to reverse” the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by […]

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