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Archive for the ‘health reform’ tag

A Test of Character

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health-care.jpgHealth reform has officially become a test of character — the character of our nation and, perhaps more immediately, the character of our elected representatives.

Last night, President Obama laid out a strong, meaningful and moral health-reform platform. It is a sensible and fair approach that will help improve the lives, health and security of millions of American families.

Under the plan, hard-working Americans can be sure that an unexpected layoff or an effort to start your own business won’t keep you from getting the treatment you need. And strong prevention measures will help save money and reduce the terrible effects chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma are having on low-income people and communities of color.

It is time for leaders on all sides to put their heads down and do the work we elected them to do. The Obama plan represents a broad consensus, packed with the most promising ideas from experts, doctors and leaders on both sides of the Congressional aisle.

After a long, hot, loud August filled with disinformation and overheated rhetoric, it is time for the politics to cool. How Republican leaders react to this speech throughout September and October will show clearly whether they are in Washington to make the lives of everyday Americans better or if they are there to score cheap political points at the expense of the American people.

The perpetual campaign must stop. Our unfair, outdated, and unresponsive health-care system has dragged down families and businesses for far too long.

Obama stepped up to the plate last night, showing a willingness to bring any good ideas into the fold. But a willingness to compromise does not mean stepping away from essential elements and cannot represent a willingness to wait.

The time is now for real change. It’s up to our elected leaders to decide whether they want to play a constructive role — or merely hurl invective from the sidelines.

This article also appeared in the Washington Post’s “Health Care RX” experts panel. For more of Angela Glover Blackwell’s analyses, click here.

Written by Angela Glover Blackwell

September 10th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Leading Health Foundations Say Prevention is Vital to Health Systems Reform

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New York, NY - Leaders of six of the nation’s top health foundations today made an unprecedented joint call for prevention measures to be central to the reform of our national health systems.In a letter released today, leaders at The California Endowment, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente, wrote that prevention measures like early health screenings and improved access to healthy food will save both lives and money. Good health, they argue, doesn’t start at the doctor’s office - it starts where we live, work, learn and play.Beginning in 2006, the six foundations, along with technical advisor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, partnered to form the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership - a collaboration of funders looking to help healthy people live in healthy places. Today’s letter was released on behalf of the Partnership.

In the letter, the foundation leaders point to several proven examples where community-level prevention measures improved health, saved money, and cultivated community leadership.

“This is a strong national platform for the nation to build on,” they write in the letter, available in full at “With additional resources, it could bring considerable improvements in health for all Americans. It is time to scale up these efforts by including robust financial support for community prevention in any health systems reform.”

The letter’s signatories are:

  • Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO; The California Endowment
  • Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Senior Vice President; Kaiser Permanente
  • Rip Rapson, CEO; The Kresge Foundation
  • David J. Bailey, MD; CEO and President; Nemours 
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA; President Robert Wood Johnson Foundation   
  • Sterling K. Speirn; President and CEO; W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The letter is released at a crucial time, as Americans and Congress debate how to reform our national health care system.

The foundation leaders stress that prevention can save money and improve the long-term population health. A study last year from the Trust for America’s Health showed that for every dollar we invest in proven community-based disease prevention programs, we save $5.60. If we invested $10 per person in prevention, we could yield savings of more than $16 billion nationwide annually within five years.

The American people also want a health care system built around smart prevention measures. A recent Greenberg Poll showed prevention was the most popular potential health care fix, with nearly half of respondents rating it a 10 out of 10 in terms of importance.

Successful programs highlighted in the letter include:

  • In Bakersfield, Calif., a small group of local mothers - many of them Spanish-speaking farm workers - formed a walking group to improve their fitness and build community. With the help of police, parks officials, and the local Chamber of Commerce, the group cleaned up a long-neglected park and reported meaningful improvements in their health.
  • In Somerville, Mass., the citywide Shape Up Somerville campaign helped bring the city healthier school food, safer routes to school, farmers markets, community gardens, and more nutritional restaurant options. Weight gain among first- through third-graders has already slowed.
  • In Delaware, the statewide Make Delaware’s Kids the Healthiest in the Nation campaign ensured that policies and practices in early education focus on healthy eating and physical activity as part of a comprehensive approach to positively impact childhood obesity where children live, learn, and play. For every dollar invested in the initiative, Delaware saw a $4 savings in healthcare costs.

“Over time,” the foundation leaders wrote, “a focus on community prevention will improve health, save money, reduce demands on our health system and, most important, lead to a nation of healthier people and healthier places to live.”

About The Convergence Partnership In 2006, a collaboration of funders came together to create the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership, with the shared goal of changing policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places. The steering committee includes representatives from The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, The Kresge Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serve as critical technical advisors on the committee. PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity, serves as program directors for the partnership. Prevention Institute, a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving community health and equity through effective primary prevention, provides policy research and analysis along with strategic support.

For more information, please visit

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 17th, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Prevention is Crucial, Say Leaders of Six Nat’l Health Foundations

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Leaders of six of the nation’s top health foundations today announced an unprecedented joint call that community-level prevention measures must be central to national health systems reform.

In a joint letter released today, leaders at The California Endowment, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente, wrote that community-level prevention measures like improved access to healthy food will save both lives and money.

The letter was released on behalf of the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of funders working to change policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places

As Americans and Congress debate how best to reform our health systems, the foundation leaders show how vital community-level prevention measures are to making Americans healthier for the long-term.

To read the full letter, please visit

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 17th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Congress, Health Reform, and Prevention

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Click to CallHealth-care reform negotiations are heating up.  Now is the time to make sure that prevention and equity are part of the final health reform package.
Contact your legislators and tell them:

  • Prevention measures recognize that where we live affects how we live. Congress has to address health in communities where people live, work, and play–not just in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a clinic.
  • Communities with prevention measures such as easy access to fresh food, clean air, public transit, and safe places to play are places that enable all Americans to be healthier.
  • Low income communities and communities of color bear a greater disease burden because they are often disproportionately exposed to poor air quality, have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and offer fewer options for exercise, physical activity, and preventative care.  When we focus on prevention in every community, we help reduce inequities in all communities.
  • Investments in prevention not only help all Americans to live healthier, longer lives, but will ultimately save money.


Keep the four points above handy when you contact your Congressional representatives:

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 4th, 2009 at 5:57 pm