From 1997 to 2003, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded a national program called The Access Project: National Access to Care Initiative. Its primary focus was to help more community organizations become involved in effective policy advocacy around access to care.
The program was affiliated with Brandeis University's Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Boston. RWJF's Board of Trustees authorized $9.75 million for the program beginning in July 1997.
According to program staff, the most important accomplishment of The Access Project has been the creation of a national resource center for local organizations working in health care.
Project Staff worked in 57 cities and towns in 29 states, providing about $3 million in contractual assistance to organizations, including devising ways to ensure that tobacco-settlement funds were used for improving health, and monitoring local hospitals' adherence to providing free care to people without insurance. Staff also conducted a community-based survey of more than 10,000 people who were uninsured in 24 communities across 19 states. Groups used survey findings to persuade hospitals to reduce the debt owed by patients without health insurance and add language translation services.