A Brief History of RWJF and Health Reform

    • February 26, 2009

With the Obama Administration gearing up to take a fresh look at health reform, RWJF's annual publication, the Anthology, took a look back at what the Foundation has learned from its past efforts in several key areas of this critical issue.

A formidable challenge for any foundation trying to reform health care policy is translating the broad principle of assuring that all Americans have access to high-quality health care—which for all practical purposes means expanding health insurance coverage—without becoming embroiled in partisan politics. In a chapter on the politics of health reform, Brown University political science professor James Morone explores how the Foundation used the more activist tools at its disposal—particularly advocacy, policy development and communications—in an attempt to bring about health care reform.

In a chapter on research, freelance journalist Carolyn Newbergh examines the research that the Foundation has funded on health insurance and on the uninsured. This includes research on just about every aspect of health insurance, including the economics of insuring employees of small businesses; the number of uninsured and who they are; the consequences of being uninsured on people’s health; and various proposals to cover the uninsured.

In a chapter on enrollment, journalist Irene Wielawski  examines the major Foundation-funded programs to make families aware that their children might be eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid benefits and to address the practical obstacles to enrollment and renewal. Through her visits to two sites, she offers an on-the-ground look at the way different locales have worked to enroll eligible people and what the programs have and—not surprisingly, given the many practical challenges to enrollment—have not accomplished.