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 around health policy, there was no dearth of issues from which to select when compiling our policy agenda.
The process for developing Health Forward’s 2018/2019 policy agenda began in early June — that’s right just a couple weeks after the state legislative sessions ended in Kansas and Missouri, Typically we identify the needs for the coming year, but for the first time in our history, Health Forward decided to put forward a two-year policy agenda, an acknowledgement that the policymaking process is oftentimes slow-moving and incremental, even on noncontroversial issues. The extra year gives us time to focus on true advancement of health policy and its success.
It was a challenge to boil Health Forward’s policy priorities down to just six, but we’ve done it. Here they are:
These are priorities that Health Forward plans to support intensively, oftentimes taking a leading role.
- Maintain and advance access to health coverage for low-income, vulnerable, and uninsured residents of Kansas and Missouri.
- Ensure adequate reimbursement for school-based health services.
- Encourage Cass and Lafayette counties to opt into the regional prescription drug monitoring program.
Health Forward will be involved in, but not leading these efforts.
- Support funding of a state infrastructure that is adequate to administer, maintain, and analyze data from Medicaid programs.
- Explore policies that will enhance access to safe, affordable and healthy housing.
- Work with partners to develop a coalition that can advocate for local public health funding.
To develop the agenda, I solicited potential policy issues from Health Forward associates, Community Advisory Council members, our board of directors, and lobbyists. Program officers are particularly important to this process since they hear about policy issues from our nonprofit partners during site visits and other community events. We also surfaced ideas through our community forums that began in May and just concluded.
At this point in the process, we presented potential agenda items to our board for their input. We had far more proposed policy agenda items than the staff time and political capital we could dedicate. To help determine priority of the policy agenda items, we encouraged our board members to consider the following factors:
- Does Health Forward’s voice or expertise make its involvement uniquely valuable?
- Is Health Forward sufficiently influential with the targeted policymakers?
- Is there anyone else who is/could move this issue forward?
- Does the issue require either urgency or duration that only Health Forward can offer?
Using this filter, our board members offered their input. We put the agenda through its final revisions and the board approved the 2018-2019 policy agenda at their board meeting today.
We are excited to embark on this new agenda, and the partnerships built in the process of moving health policy forward. Please continue to watch for blog posts over the coming months that will highlight each of Health Forward’s policy priorities.