As we all file back to work in the new decade, we pause to celebrate a time-honored tradition here at Health Forward by recapping highlights from the previous year.
Here’s how we spent some of 2019:
Honoring Bridget McCandless’ service to Health Forward Foundation
Dr. Bridget McCandless announced her retirement as Health Forward President/CEO in early 2019. She has a long history with Health Forward. Although she was employed by Health Forward for 6 years as president, she actually served our organization from the very beginning as an inaugural board member.
We thank her for her contribution to building healthier communities, for her encouragement in our daily work, and for her steadfast dedication toward those in our communities who are most in need. We wish her the best in her retirement.
Each year we create a snapshot of the grants we provide throughout the region. In 2019, we awarded a total of $20.7 million through 200 grants and special initiatives. (See the image above for the breakdown of our grantmaking.) We thank each of you for your tireless service.
And yet, that total doesn’t tell the whole story of the dedicated work our grantees and community partners do each and every day to build healthier communities. We love to share how you are eliminating barriers to health, so if you’d like to write a blog post about your work, fill out this form.
You can read on our blog about recent work in each of our areas of focus:
Celebrating New and Old Faces
In 2019, we added two new associates to the Health Forward family. They brought passion and energy to their new roles, and we’re excited to have these individuals helping us perform our best work. Meet the new associates in their blog posts:
We also celebrated some big anniversaries of associates who have been with Health Forward for many years. You can read about their time here in their blog posts:
- Grants system administrator Keonna Baldwin’s five-year anniversary
- CFO Rick Zimmer’s 10-year anniversary
It has been six years since the Affordable Care Act was rolled out, and Kansas and Missouri are still waiting for Medicaid expansion. We have watched other states improve health access and outcomes while our states struggle to provide access to care.
Health Forward remains committed to advocating for available, accessible, and affordable health care. We know that Medicaid plays a vital role in that work.
And in 2019, we took some steps toward real progress on that front.
In Kansas, legislative leaders have pledged to take up the debate on Medicaid expansion in the 2020 session. Gov. Laura Kelly also re-convened a working group to study the costs and benefits of Medicaid expansion models in other states. We are hopeful that the conversation in Kansas has shifted from if Medicaid will be expanded to when it will happen.
In Missouri, we are taking Medicaid directly to the people who most need it. Health Forward is among many partners of Healthcare for Missouri, which officially launched a campaign in early September to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot.
The newly formed campaign will ask voters to bring home more than a billion of Missourians’ tax dollars from Washington, D.C., every year to keep rural hospitals open, boost the state’s economy, and deliver health care to people who have lower-paying jobs that don’t come with insurance.
A signature collection drive is happening with volunteers from around the state. The coalition needs to collect 172,000 signatures from registered voters to put Medicaid expansion on the November 2020 ballot. The signature collection efforts are well underway, with 50 percent of signatures collected to-date.
We remain optimistic that 2020 is the year to finally remove a major barrier to health care by expanding Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri.