During the December board meeting, Health Forward Foundation adopted policy priorities for 2021 and 2022. We regard our policy and advocacy work as a necessary complement to our grantmaking.
Absent systems change through policies that support thriving communities, we will be unable to maximize the impacts of our grantmaking.
Our advocacy work and that of our partners around important public health issues will lead to a better future for the communities we serve.
Our target population, which encompasses urban and rural communities on both sides of the state line, includes the residents who will benefit most from Medicaid expansion, improvements to public health and other technological advances, like telehealth.
This year, we witnessed how the pandemic highlighted — through the unfortunate lack of availability — the critical importance of government and public health resources, including funding, relief, information, interventions, vaccinations, and treatment. We also learned that public health data are most useful when uniformly collected and disaggregated and that data disaggregation supports informed decision making on matters of public health concern.
We have witnessed communities struggle with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. These impacts have disproportionately affected communities of color and urban and rural communities in our region. The multifaceted and intertwined consequences of the pandemic affect nearly every aspect of our service population’s daily lives, including economic opportunities and the ability to live in safe, quality spaces. All of these conditions pre-dated the pandemic, but have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic’s increased burdens on individuals and institutions alike.
In September 2020, Qiana Thomason, Health Forward’s President and CEO, announced a new direction that leads to greater health equity for the communities we serve. The paths we will take will be paved by our advocacy and our grantmaking, and are reflected in our policy agenda.
Health Forward’s policy agenda aims to advance our organizational vision, be responsive to the current environment, and actualize a future with greater health equity.
Our advocacy work will focus on
- Equitable access to high-quality health care
- Increase funding for, and improve administration of, public health funding and resources
- Address social and political influencers of health that contribute to health injustices
Within each of these goal areas, we have identified policy priorities that will advance our progress toward each goal. Additive to previous policy agendas, this iteration includes two documents — one for Kansas and one for Missouri — that highlight each state’s unique challenges that we seek to address through public policy advocacy. Our full policy agendas for Kansas and Missouri can be accessed here.
We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with cross-sector stakeholders in our service area to advance our shared interests. Our advocacy work on these issues will take many forms, and we are excited to work with and on behalf of our partners and the individuals we serve for a healthier future for all in our region.