1994 Report Urges Higher Profile for Public Health Agencies in Managed Care

Public health's role in preparing for health care reform

From 1994 to 1996, the Public Health Foundation, Washington, contracted with each of the three associations that comprised the Joint Council of Governmental Public Health Agencies — representing city, county, state, and territorial public health agencies — to examine the role of public health agencies in the face of increasing dominance by managed health care organizations.

Key Results

  • The Joint Council published Promoting Quality Care for Communities: The Role of Health Departments in an Era of Managed Care. In the report, the Joint Council outlined how health departments could continue to take an active part in ensuring quality health care to communities while working with managed care organizations.
  • The Joint Council made a study of resource needs, which concluded that funding for state and local health departments would need to double in order for departments to perform their core functions effectively.
  • The Joint Council made "mini-grants" of up to $4,000 apiece to six state and local health organizations for "marketing" public health efforts.
  • The Joint Council printed and distributed the report For A Healthy Nation: Returns on Investment in Public Health. The report, which was produced by the USPHS, notes that:
    • Life expectancy in the past 50 years has increased 30 years, largely because of public health strategies for disease and injury prevention. Only five of those years are due to improvements in clinical medicine.
    • Investment in public health leads to substantial future savings in medical care, but funding for public health has steadily declined. In 1992, its funding accounted for less than 1 percent of the aggregate amount spent on U.S. health care.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a $182,585 grant to this effort between January 1994 and February 1996.

Most Requested