State Forums Partnership Program

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: January 1999 through December 2006

Field of Work: Informing state policymakers about complex health issues affecting their states.

Problem Synopsis: In the 1990s, the federal government began shifting decision-making authority to individual states, making state legislatures responsible for implementing and administering major health, mental health and human services programs. In an environment of rising health care costs and shrinking state budgets, state appointed and elected officials faced complex, difficult decisions related to public sector programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, often with little knowledge of health policy.

Synopsis of the Work: The State Forums Partnership Program enabled seven states (Kansas, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) to establish health policy forums programs.

Key Results

  • More than 4,400 attendees participated in 71 policy forums in seven states between 2000 and 2006. Some 40 percent of program participants were state legislators, legislative staff or executive branch officials.

  • Grantees prepared and disseminated more than 100 research briefs, primers and fact sheets to accompany forums.

  • As of December 2007, three grantees (in Kansas, Massachusetts and Texas) maintained ongoing health policy forums programs in their states. To varying degrees, the other grantees continued to provide policy education but did not have specific forums programs.