A Major Step Forward for Better Health and Health Care

RWJF President and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., talks about the new health care law that will help the millions of uninsured.

When the Foundation opened its doors as a national philanthropy almost 40 years ago, it appeared that coverage for all Americans was right around the corner. After all that time, it looks like this is the year that our nation finally rounds that corner to confront the huge task of providing coverage for 32 million more Americans head on. The new law meets core principles for coverage set down by the Foundation and offers the country the opportunity to improve the health of our people.

That’s our mission—to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We have long devoted our energies and resources to identifying practical ways for every American to have access to affordable, quality care. For more than a generation we’ve worked across the entire spectrum of health and health care to:

  • Cover the uninsured;
  • Improve the quality, value, and equality of health care;
  • Bring down spending;
  • Prevent disease and promote healthier lifestyles;
  • Strengthen public health; and
  • Address the root social, economic, cultural and individual behavioral factors that affect our health just as much as bacteria and disease.

Each element is but one piece in solving the larger health care puzzle. And this week’s events don’t provide all the answers. The staggering rates of childhood obesity, the broken systems of health care and public health that still need re-building—problems of this magnitude do not vanish with a President’s single signature.

Tom Kean, our board chair, understands the measured pace of social change. “We’ve been at this for 40 years,” he told me yesterday, “and we’ll be working another 40 and beyond to continue improving our health care system and the health of our people. What’s so important about foundations like ours is that we have the long-term perspective to keep our eye on the horizon and stay above the fray, the partners and knowledge to get the job done, and the resources to stick with issues over the long haul.”

Yes, it’s a long haul indeed, with few rest breaks and plenty of road blocks yet to come. But it is these achievements along the way that keep us going and get us one step closer to realizing the full promise of our philanthropy and our nation.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO

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