We know that to some people, foundations simply seem like large ATM machines. If you have the right card and the right code, then voila, the money for a project or organization is dispensed and you’re done. But we, and many of our funder colleagues, strive to be more than this. We hope that we can add value to the work of grantees, supporting them in ways that go beyond the grant check.
I was invited to write an essay for the annual meeting of Grantmakers in Health, a membership organization for foundations like ours working to improve health and health care. The theme was “The Power of Voice,” and we were asked to share how we use the Foundation’s position and influence to advance our mission and how we amplify the voices of our grantees and stakeholders (for us, older adults). We wanted to share this essay about the Foundation’s communications and “noise-making” efforts and you can read other health foundations’ perspectives here.
We hope this provides some insight into our thinking and motivation for you to join us in raising your voice for better health of older adults.
While still shrouded in mist, the path to transforming our health care system is becoming more clear.
While the view is still hazy, last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took a major step to clarify how it will address the major challenge facing Medicare (and therefore our health care system): transforming an episodic, acute-care dominated, fee-for-service system into one that can meet the challenge of complex chronic care, improving the health of older people while reducing spending.
This is the challenge our new “downstream” grantmaking strategy is designed to address, making CMS’s proposal both very welcome and a high-stakes opportunity to advance our hopes.
Click photo to watch the Community Catalyst video.
You would think having both Medicare and Medicaid would mean getting more of the benefits and services you need.
But for the 10 million people who receive health care coverage under both systems—who are poor and mostly older adults with complex health and social needs—it’s far too easy to fall between the cracks of these good programs. They are structured differently, have different rules, and often lead to a complicated maze of services and providers.
If our shift in strategy moves our focus from “upstream” academic capacity building to a “downstream” emphasis on the determinants of practice, these vanguard leaders are shooting the rapids and teaching us what can be done with geriatric expertise.
What is the best way to sell umbrellas? We have tons of street vendors in New York who know the secret. Is it to have the best-made, reasonably priced umbrella on the block? That’s a good starting point.
Do you need an attractive sign or an attention-getting catchphrase? Good advertising certainly helps. But if you really want to sell your umbrellas, there is one sure-fire way to have them fly off your cart. You guessed it.
Dr. Tracy Lustig testified in August before the Commission on Long-Term Care.
One of my biggest surprises in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was the inclusion of title VIII, the CLASS ACT, which created the possibility of a national, voluntary, premium-financed, and federally administered long-term care insurance program.
While the benefits might have been small and delivered through our only marginally adequate long-term care system, at least it was a start and a step toward recognizing the serious long-term care needs of our aging population.
On June 4, I was fortunate enough to be the special guest on a record-breaking Health Care Leadership Twitter Chat (#HCLDR ) that reached more than 2 million people on Twitter and was the number one trending topic in the twittersphere.
As the guest, I was charged with designing the chat, choosing the topic and questions, and contributing a blog to be referenced on the Health Care Leadership homepage. What was the topic that had the social media hive buzzing? We explored the issues surrounding person-centered care and patient activation, and talked about the role of people supporting their health within the context of health care delivery.
So many of us spend our lives dedicated to improving health care. As a senior program officer working for The John A. Hartford Foundation in NYC, I peruse endless data quantifying the problems, poor quality care, and needless harm to our nation’s frail and vulnerable older adults. For example, 20 percent of our nations’ older adults return to the hospital within 30 days after being discharged. The cost for this debacle is estimated at more than $17 billion dollars per year in avoidable readmissions. If this were a car dealership—and the rate of repaired cars returning needlessly to the shop—they would go out of business.
To outsiders, Washington D.C. is a mysterious place filled with smart and hardworking people. But it is very hard to know who has influence, whose opinion is respected, and where to start. It’s also a place where young staffers have incredible responsibilities to carry out the ideas and intentions of their elected bosses, but not a lot of background or time to master issues.
Who would have guessed six or seven years ago that the young staffers of the junior senator from Illinois would have been elevated to positions of enormous influence by their boss’s election to President? For us at the John A. Hartford Foundation, one way to help navigate these mysteries and to be sure that the issues and work of the grantees we support are communicated to policymakers is our relationship with the National Health Policy Forum.
Over the years—31, to be exact—the Hartford Foundation has funded 10 grants totaling more than $6.4 million to the National Health Policy Forum (NHPF or “the Forum”), located at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and headed by its founding director, Judith Miller Jones. In the early days, the Hartford Foundation funded Judy and the NHPF to further the foundation’s work under its short-lived Health Care Cost & Quality initiative. A few years after that initiative ended, Hartford again commissioned Judy and the NHPF to further the Foundation’s current mission and work in aging and health care issues, which it has been doing since 1997 with six grants worth more than $5.7 million.
Amy Berman, left, with geriatrician and social media maven Wen Dombrowski at TEDMED 2013.
Earlier this month, I attended my very first TEDMED in Washington, D.C. I had butterflies in my stomach because I was asked to provide opening remarks on the final day of TEDMED, at a convening on The Great Challenges of Health Care.
As a person living with serious illness, I was charged with speaking from the heart and grounding a discussion about the Role of the Patient. And as a professional who works on one of the biggest challenges health care faces—how to best care for a rapidly growing older adult population—excitement didn’t come close to describing how I felt. Thrilled? Terrified? Much closer.