Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative Annual Conference Highlights Key Health Issues for Pennsylvanians

The PA Health Funders Collaborative held their annual conference via Zoom November 9th to 12th, highlighting key issues facing the health of Pennsylvanians. The issues of COVID-19, racial disparities, health equity, social justice, technology, and behavioral, physical, and social health were woven into each of the sessions as cross-cutting themes.

Joanne Kenen, Executive Health Care Editor of Politico, provided the keynote on the national election and how to make progress and move forward in an age of distrust, reviewing the post-election landscape, Supreme Court cases and potential scenarios, and the brief windows that we will have to effect change.

Moving to the state level, Dave Radley, Senior Scientist, Tracking Health System Performance, of The Commonwealth Fund reviewed key findings from Pennsylvania's 2020 scorecard on state health system performance and offered recommendations for Pennsylvania. Michael Fraser, PhD, MS, Chief Executive Officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, presented best practices from across the nation that Pennsylvania could adopt to improve our public health infrastructure.

Discussions also centered on the workforce in perinatal and elder care, with Marianne Fray, President and CEO of the Maternity Care Coalition, who explained the role of perinatal community health workers and doulas, as well as policy barriers to advancing this workforce. Chloe Bakst, Health Policy and Research Assistant at the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI), reviewed the state policy levers to certify and reimburse doulas and community health workers based on IMI's report, "The Role of Doulas and Community Health Workers in Medicaid." Amy York, Executive Director of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, rounded out the discussion with policies and training/career paths for nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care attendants.

Attendees then explored opportunities for using innovative technologies, like artificial intelligence, to identify behavioral health needs in Pennsylvania, with Dale Adair, MD, Medical Director, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), PA DHS.

The final session wrapped with a discussion of new models for senior residential living. Marc Cohen, PhD, Co-director, LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, who presented preliminary results from a study, "Making the Case for Long-Term Care Reimbursement In Pennsylvania." Drs. Kelley and Appel from the PA Department of Human Services (DHS) discussed the needs and policy opportunities to improve services for frail seniors in Pennsylvania based on the Rapid Response Healthcare Collaborative Program. David Kelley, MD, MPA is the Chief Medical Officer of PA DHS' Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP) and Office of Long-Term Living. Larry Appel, MD is the Medical Director of PA DHS' Office of Long-Term Living. 

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