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Foundations to Strengthen State Health Care Reform Advocacy
Date:2/6/2008

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation announce new projects supporting state reforms to cover uninsured children and families

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Packard) each announced grant projects today that will considerably strengthen state health reforms.

Effective solutions to some of the nation's most pressing health care problems are being actively developed and implemented in the states. All together, Packard's Finish Line Project and RWJF's Consumer Voices for Coverage will provide 18 advocacy organizations in 14 states with significant technical and financial resources. Consumer Voices for Coverage will concentrate broadly on state health care reform initiatives, and the Finish Line Project will focus on providing coverage for all children.

"There is tremendous momentum in the states for implementing effective health care reform. We know from experience that the voices of consumers - the men and women who work hard each day to support their families - are often the most effective in driving necessary change," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "As states launch ambitious health care reform efforts to ensure that more Americans have health insurance, advocates for consumers will be able to make their voices heard."

"States are leading the charge to cover America's uninsured children and with effective leadership from committed policymakers, advocates, and community leaders, they can finish the job and cover every child," said Carol S. Larson, president and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. "As private health insurance has grown less available and more expensive, children are in danger of being left behind, but some states are building a future where every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy."

Finish Line Project

Funded by the Packard Foundation, the Finish Line Project is a $15 million, five-year grantmaking strategy providing financial and technical support to advocacy organizations in selected states that are best positioned to make significant advances in children's coverage. The Center for Children and Families, an independent, non-partisan policy institute based at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, will provide policy and communication support to each of the Finish Line state grantees.

Organizations receiving Finish Line Project grants include:

-- Arkansas - Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

-- Colorado - Colorado Children's Campaign

-- Iowa - Child and Family Policy Center

-- Ohio - Voices for Ohio's Children

-- Rhode Island - Rhode Island KIDS COUNT

-- Texas - Children's Defense Fund of Texas

-- Washington - Children's Alliance

In addition to funding in those seven states, Packard will also expand its multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in support of children's coverage work in California.

Consumer Voices for Coverage

Initiated by RWJF, Consumer Voices for Coverage will enhance the critical role that advocates play in shaping and promoting comprehensive health reform. The $15 million, three-year initiative will strengthen existing advocacy networks in 12 states. Community Catalyst, a national, non-profit consumer health advocacy organization headquartered in Boston, will coordinate the effort nationwide.

Organizations chosen to lead Consumer Voices for Coverage networks in select states include:

-- California - Health Access Foundation

-- Colorado - Colorado Consumer Health Initiative

-- Illinois - Campaign for Better Health Care

-- Maine - Consumers for Affordable Health Care Foundation

-- Maryland - Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative Education Fund, Inc.

-- Minnesota - TakeAction Minnesota Education Fund

-- New Jersey - New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund

-- New York - The Community Service Society

-- Ohio - Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, Inc.

-- Oregon - Oregon Health Action Campaign

-- Pennsylvania - Philadelphia Unemployment Project/Unemployment Information Center

-- Washington - Washington Community Action Network Education and Research Fund

Reform efforts in California, Colorado, Ohio and Washington will receive support from both RWJF and Packard.

"Effective consumer advocacy can increase the momentum in the states leading to action," said Susan T. Sherry, deputy director of Community Catalyst, who directs Consumer Voices for Coverage. "Creating networks that bring the views of real people to policy-makers and key thought leaders in the states about the need for coverage expansion can be a powerful inducement for reform."

"States are moving forward in addressing the pressing health care needs of children," said Cindy Mann, executive director of the Center for Children and Families. "States are learning from each other what works and which policy reforms are most efficient and effective at getting more kids covered. As they do so, state leaders and advocates are able to ensure best practices are adopted in additional states to improve coverage for children and families."

For more information about the Finish Line Project, visit http://www.packard.org/finishlineproject.

Additional information on Consumer Voices for Coverage can be found at http://www.voicesforcoverage.org.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. By helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

About the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912-1996), cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914-1987). The Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the following program areas: Conservation and Science; Population; and Children, Families, and Communities. The Foundation makes national and international grants and also has a special focus on the Northern California Counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey. Foundation grantmaking includes support for a wide variety of activities including direct services, research and policy development, and public information and education. The Foundation does not fund attempts to influence specific legislation or ballot measures.


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SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; David and Lucile PackardFoundation
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