The work that earned Judi Hilman, M.A., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Community Health Leader award in 2008 has again been recognized by a prestigious institution. In January, Families USA named Hilman its Consumer Health Advocate of the Year—an award given by the health care nonprofit for outstanding contributions on behalf of the nation’s health care consumers. Hilman works to expand access to health services for underserved and isolated populations in sustainable ways.
Hilman is executive director and co-founder of the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP), a nonprofit founded in 2006 to create quality, affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for all people in Utah through research, policy innovation, and civic participation activities. UHPP connects the public, community leaders, the media, businesses, health care providers and policy-makers to the resources they need to understand health policy issues and financially sustainable solutions.
Advancing Health Care Reform
Most recently, UHPP has been working to educate Utah citizens about national health care reform and to ensure that reforms are properly implemented in the state. When she won the Community Health Leader award in 2008, Hilman proposed using the award money to create a UHPP consumer health assistance and navigation program.
“Now that health care reform is the law of the land, we know that a key ingredient is consumers knowing how to navigate their new choices,” Hilman said. “It was really great that we were identified at that time [with a Community Health Leader award], because I think now we have a leg up in implementing the Affordable Care Act and making sure Utah benefits from all the changes.”
The recognition from RWJF and Families USA has increased visibility for the Utah Health Policy Project, Hilman said: “It’s been helpful recognition when it comes to promoting health care reform in the state. We have a very challenging environment here, and RWJF and Families USA really value some of the ideas we can bring to the table.”
RWJF Community Health Leaders overcome daunting odds to improve the health and quality of life for those living in disadvantaged communities across the United States. These extraordinary leaders each receive $125,000 to support their ongoing work, as well as opportunities to network and collaborate with other leaders from around the country.