Blog Posts By: Jessica Hembree

It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

October 3, 2018

Did you read that headline? Are you hearing the chorus of the Boyz II Men song in your head? I sure am. I must admit that I’ve procrastinated writing this post, which is completely out of character for me. The only time I put off doing something is when it’s hard — not hard in […]

The good, the bad and the almost: A review of the 2018 legislative sessions in Missouri and Kansas

May 30, 2018

Health Forward focuses on igniting a culture of health by advocating for health and wellness and working to ensure that the health of those most in need is prioritized by our elected leaders. Health Forward’s policy agenda helps guide the ways that Health Forward uses its own voice in support of policy change, but it’s […]

What’s happening in Kansas and Missouri? A 2018 mid-session legislative recap

March 22, 2018

The clock has sprung forward, birds are singing, the sun is (sometimes) shining … spring is upon us! As the season turns, both the Missouri and Kansas legislatures are inching ever closer to the end of their legislative sessions. This is a great time to hit pause and take stock of the health policy picture […]

Access to health coverage in Kansas, Missouri

January 18, 2018

Health Forward’s Mission: Providing leadership, advocacy, and resource to eliminate barriers and promote quality health for the uninsured and underserved in our service area. When I dismantle Health Forward’s mission into its bits and pieces, the action words stand out loud and clear: “leadership, advocacy, and resources,” but perhaps more importantly I think about the […]

Health Forward releases two-year policy agenda

October 25, 2017

Whew, these are some challenging times in health policy, and not a single one is a simple fix. Between repeal/replace attempts at the federal level, a steady drumbeat of ACA-related executive orders, dormant efforts at expanding Medicaid (looking at you here, Missouri), and a groundswell of interest from area cities that are taking the reins […]

Why block grants are so troublesome

August 9, 2017

Although the U.S. Congress failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we remain vigilant to monitoring future attempts of replacing the current health care system. We have always advocated that any adjustments to the federal health care laws should be more inclusive to all Americans and should impose fewer restrictions to access quality […]

Experience informs 2017 policy agenda

February 2, 2017

This past week, we published our 2017 policy agenda, found here on our website. Setting policy goals is an annual activity for us and one that requires much consideration from both internal and external sources about our previous year’s policy results, the political and economic climate, and health trends. It’s neither a quick nor easy process […]

Why Tobacco 21 | KC was so successful

December 8, 2016

As 2016 winds down, we begin our annual blog series where Health Forward associates review highlights from our work this past year. In our fifth post, Jessica Hembree examines why Tobacco 21 policies were well-received in the area. Join us as we look back on 2016.  As reflected in the national decline in smoking rates, there […]

Election recap: The context may change, but the goals don’t

November 14, 2016

Now that we’ve had some time to process the outcomes of this general election, I wanted to provide a recap of Tuesday’s election results and some thoughts about how the election results will impact Health Forward’s policy work in the coming years. National Election Results While it is too early to know the impact of […]

What’s a nonprofit to do?

April 20, 2016

Presidential election years heighten the decibel of the political conversation. Between SNL skits, shocking headlines, and social media, politics are very top-of-mind for many of us in our personal lives, but where do they factor into the work of nonprofit organizations? Although nonprofits are prohibited from endorsing candidates or taking partisan position, they have significant […]

Introducing Health Forward’s 2016 Policy Agenda

January 25, 2016

Each year about this time, the Health Forward Foundation develops a policy agenda to help guide our advocacy work in the coming year. I know that many of our grantees and nonprofit partners do the same, and let me assure you that crafting these agendas is tricky! Every decision about where to invest capital, be […]

A look back at 2015: Tobacco21|KC a win for public health

Tobacco21 KC logo

December 17, 2015

On November 19, both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, passed policies to increase the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21. Having been part of many tobacco fights over the previous 15 years, this one felt different. We were quick to achieve success and fortunate to find a depth and breadth of […]

Send the money to outer space

September 9, 2015

Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax has created some very interesting politics, with three separate groups vying to increase the tax on the November 2016 ballot. A common strain in all three proposals is that they propose to use the revenue generated from a tobacco tax for non-health issues (namely, transportation, early education, and higher education). This […]

What’s Going On in Missouri: A Mid-Session Legislative Recap

March 25, 2015

The Missouri legislature is on spring break at the moment, so let’s take a look at the health-related bills working their way around the Capitol. The legislature will reconvene Monday, March 30, before a short Easter break at the beginning of April. Medicaid Expansion Proving only that silence is deafening, this session in Missouri has […]

What’s Going On In Kansas: A Mid-Session Legislative Recap

March 12, 2015

The end of February marked Turnaround Day in the Kansas legislature, the date by which bills must move from their originating chamber to the other body in order to remain live. The legislature will adjourn on April 4 and reconvene at the end of April for a veto session, leaving only a short window of […]

Previewing the 2015 Legislative Session of Kansas, Missouri

January 20, 2015

January means New Year’s resolutions, honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and welcoming legislators back to Topeka and Jefferson City. As we gear up for the 2015 session, here’s a snapshot of what to expect for both states. Kansas There are a couple big issues that are going to occupy most of the legislators’ […]

Living the Mission

December 8, 2014

I’m going to invite you to take out your organization’s mission statement and give it a hard look. Yeah, I imagine most of you have it memorized and ready to deliver as an “elevator speech” to someone at a networking function or potential donor, but today I am inviting you to stop and really read […]

Back to School: Medicaid Math 101

August 14, 2014

Sharpen your #2 pencil and dust off your three-ring (Lisa Frank) binder. It’s time for a quick math lesson! Let’s breakdown some simple math that’s summarized nicely in this infographic. Medicaid expansion has the potential to connect nearly 90,000 people in the Health Forward service area with health insurance, bringing $325 million to the area […]

Blurred Lines: Oral Health and Overall Health

June 19, 2014

While also the name of a hit pop song, blurred lines is an apt summary of the recommendations stemming from Health Forward’s recently released oral health assessment. Oral health has traditionally been siloed apart from physical health and, unfortunately this separation has greatly impacted the cost, quality and access to oral health services. As changes […]

Previewing the 2014 Legislative Sessions in Kansas, Missouri

January 19, 2014

The Health Forward Foundation’s 2014 policy agenda has a clear top priority for both Kansas and Missouri: the expansion of Medicaid to cover those who are currently left out of any eligibility systems. By way of explanation, the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) originally created a seamless health insurance coverage that would require states to […]

The Bigger Story Behind Health Reform

December 9, 2013

Before we bid farewell to an eventful year dominated by the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects and share their insights about the year 2013. On day one of our year in review, Health Forward Program and Policy Officer Jessica Hembree offers […]

Marketplace Launch Will Highlight Need for Medicaid Expansion

September 30, 2013

Tomorrow marks the start of the first open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace that was created as part of the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA, Obamacare, health reform). While the enrollment scene looks different in every state, one common thread in both Kansas and Missouri is that neither state has opted to […]

ACA Has the Opportunity to Recognize Good Oral Health as Essential for Overall Health

April 4, 2013

Here we sit with Health Forward’s Health Madness narrowed down to the Final Four. The final contenders are: complete streets, essential oral health benefits, essential mental health benefits, and smoke-free bars and restaurants. To make a comparison to the NCAA March Madness tournament, I think essential oral health benefits are the Wichita State of the […]

Previewing the Kansas and Missouri Legislative Sessions

January 23, 2013

January is upon us, the gym is just a tad fuller, the temperatures are freezing, and your favorite legislators are back in session. While there are certainly some nuances to the legislative sessions upon us in Kansas and Missouri, there are a few major themes across both states. 1. Lots of new faces that lean […]

Kansas Mission of Mercy: A Bittersweet Pill

February 23, 2012

I was an hour into my volunteer experience at the Kansas Mission of Mercy, a free two-day dental clinic, when I walked a 50-something gentlemen from the post-operative recovery “room” to the pharmacy. I made the horrible, first-timer mistake of trying to talk to someone who has a mouth full of gauze. But, somewhere between […]

Post-Election Cool Down

November 16, 2010

If your household was anything like mine, your phone was ringing off the hook with politicians vowing to “stop the government takeover of health care” or “end Obamacare.” In true campaign fashion, this country worked itself into a tizzy. It seems that everyone from Kansas Governor-Elect Sam Brownback to Assumed Speaker of the U.S. House […]

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