Is our region doing all it should to maximize the impact of the Affordable Care Act? Are we preparing for implementation, optimizing to serve the safety net population, applying for available federal funds to benefit the region?
Up until now, the Empire Health Foundation team has been admittedly been opportunistic around these issues. The foundation has for example:
* seed funded the public health districts to prepare a strong application and collaboration for the ACA funded Community Transformation grants,
* pilot funded the initial design of a rural ACO model with our region's Critical Access Hospital network
* provided a capacity building grant to Spokane County to be the lead convener on developing a Regional Health Authority concept, and
* provided a capacity building grant (with matching funds from RWJF / GIH) to the Washington State DOH for grant writing resource for ACA federal grant opportunities.
We have also have engaged other funders in the state, thanks to Building Changes and Philanthropy Northwest. It took some time to see if there was critical mass of interest to move from discussion to action.
The core working group set up a meeting we attended this week with other funders, senior staff from the state, and those working at the regional level. Including:
Betsy Lieberman, Executive Director, Building Changes
Sue Sharpe, Executive Director, St. Luke’s Foundation
David Landers, Deputy Director, Philanthropy Northwest
Laura Smith, President and CEO, Washington Dental Service Foundation
Dale Jarvis, consultant, Dale Jarvis and Associates
Kristen West, Executive Director, CHOICE Regional Network
MaryAnne Lindeblad, Assistant Secretary, Aging and Disability Services Administration
Heidi Robbins Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Medicaid Purchasing Administration and Health Care Authority;
Jonathan Seib, Executive Policy, Office of Financial Management
Larry Thompson, Executive Director, Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare Access
Julia Sims, Program Officer, Regence Foundation
Kris Hildebrandt, Director of Grants & Community Programs, Group Health Foundation
Lorna Stone, Vice President of Programs, Washington Health Foundation
Vanessa Gaston, Director, Clark County Community Services
Christine Barada. Director, Community Services, Spokane County
What was clear is that there is great work being done at the local level and at the state level, but no coordination. And that in a few other states, private and public partnerships have developed to dedicate significant FTE people whose job every day is to figure out how to strategically align design and implement.
There is opportunity to maximize impact, and this meeting creates promising new momentum. I wish we had more resources to dedicate to this issue, but frankly we need collaboration to succeed because it represents a small fraction of our attention.