The mission of the Health Forward Foundation is to provide leadership, resources and advocacy to eliminate barriers and promote quality health for uninsured and underserved. As we worked toward that mission in 2010, Health Forward was able to celebrate many achievements…achievements that opened the door for many opportunities and challenges in 2011.
From a resources standpoint, the foundation reached an important milestone in March when the board approved grants took us over the $100 million since we began grant making in June 2005. In total in 2010 we were able to award $22.5 million in grants to benefit the uninsured and underserved in our region. Unfortunately, next year because of the decline in the stock market in 2008/2009 our grant making will reduce to $18.5 million.
In 2010, we celebrated the passage of the statewide Clean Indoor Air bill in the State of Kansas. The passage of this bill is just one example of how leadership makes a difference. Health Forward was proud to partner with the Sunflower Foundation and many organizations as we worked toward this achievement and we thank Governor Parkinson for his leadership on this issue. However, in the coming year, serious attempts are being planned to repeal this new law.
After suffering severe budget cuts to health, mental health and social service programs this year, both Missouri and Kansas will enter 2011 facing even greater budget cuts. As we did throughout the year, Health Forward will continue to provide advocacy and leadership for programs that benefit the vulnerable populations that we serve.
But perhaps the biggest positive news in 2010 was the passage of national health reform legislation. The Foundation was proud to advocate for the need of health reform and has worked throughout the year to help our communities understand the impact of the legislation. Looking ahead, the courts and politicians are now trying to severally modify or repeal reform. We vow to continue to advocate for a system that allows everyone access to affordable health care.
After the elections in November it appears that the majority of newly elected officials want a smaller government which may equate to less public health, mental health and social service programs for the poor. In my lifetime, I have never seen the class disparity, anger and misinformation regarding social, health and economic issues so prevalent.
Despite all of this I still remain an optimist, because I remember the quote from Margaret Mead who told us “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
For those of us who advocate for the underserved, 2011 must be a year where we let our voices be known. My experience tells me that in times of great trauma is when advocates do their best work…2011 is our Year!