If you’re frustrated by the fact that our health care system seems to still be getting worse, think about how much more frustrated the non-profits that have been trying to fix the system for decades must be. They’re so frustrated, in fact, that they’re changing tact.
Before, many philanthropic foundations focused on research and pilot programs, producing studies that showed how health care issues could be addressed. Now, reports the Los Angeles Times, foundations are taking more direct action. In California, “philanthropic foundations and think tanks are shedding their traditionally detached stances to crusade for healthcare reform in the state Capitol and in Congress.”
Foundations are hiring past political advisers, helping lawmakers draw up health care reform proposals and policies, and targeting their research to align with legislative agendas. In addition, these foundations are also trying to engage with the general public about health care issues.
Why get involved so directly in policymaking? One of these foundations, The California Endowment, explains it thusly: “The laws and regulations that govern state and local institutions–governments, hospitals, schools, private business–affect the health of Californians. Therefore, public policy change must be part of any long-term solutions to California’s health issues.”
Now may finally be the time for real changes in health care policy. With layoffs happening around the country, many people are losing the health insurance they had through their jobs—making a big health care reform sound attractive to a growing number of Americans.
Want to get more involved with these forward-thinking foundations? Here are three foundations involved with public policy change:
New America Foundation. This non-profit advocates for universal health care through its Health Policy Program. You can educate yourself about current health care issues by reading the foundation’s study, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why the Cost of Failing to Fix our Health System is Greater than the Cost of Reform.”
The California Endowment. This non-profit foundation’s especially concerned with eliminating social, economical, and cultural disparities in health care, and has put together an Advocacy Toolkit for budding health care activists.
The California HealthCare Foundation. This non-profit works in three main areas: Improving the quality of care for Californians with chronic disease; reducing barriers to efficient, affordable health care for the underserved; and promoting greater transparency and accountability in California’s health care system.
Yes, two of the three foundations are California-specific because, as you may have guessed, I live in California. But if you know about other foundations—whether national or state-specific—involved in changing health care policy, please share your knowledge in the comments!