Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative Relays Legislative Agenda to Harrisburg Leaders
The Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative held its spring meeting with a dozen state legislators and administration officials on April 29 in Harrisburg. The 25 members from PHFC, a network of 45 health foundations across the state, focused on four areas:
- WIC (Women, Infants and Children). For its 45th anniversary, Gov. Tom Wolf proclaimed May as "WIC Month." PHFC regards the nutrition program as a cornerstone for producing a healthy mom and baby — physically, socially and mentally. JHF COO Nancy Zionts, MBA, emphasized that without a healthy and engaged mom and family, all other social service programs fall apart.
- Integration of Physical and Behavioral Health. Substantial evidence shows improvements in health outcomes and satisfaction, with reductions in costs, when services for mental health, substance use, and primary care are integrated at the patient-provider level.
- 2020 Census. Pennsylvania is at risk of losing hundreds of millions of federal dollars due to an undercount of residents in the 2020 Census. PHFC seeks state government support to promote cooperation with Census takers and underscore its importance.
- Social Determinants of Health. As much as 70% of health care costs are driven by factors such as food and housing insecurity, physical violence, and poor transportation. These social ills contribute to poor health, in ways that may not be quantified directly but can be addressed with broad policy changes.
The PHFC members met with several legislators from Western Pennsylvania: Sen. Jay Costa, Rep. Frank Dermody, Rep. Dan Frankel, Rep. Dan Miller, and Rep. Sara Innamorato. The other elected officials included Rep. Seth Grove and Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, both from York County; Rep. Matthew Bradford of Montgomery County; and Rep. Michael Schlossberg from Lehigh County.
Erica Fricke, executive director of the House Democratic Caucus' Health Committee, joined in. Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller and Sarah Newman Boateng, executive deputy secretary of the Department of Health, met separately with the PHFC members.
The sessions were led by PHFC Executive Director Ann S. Torregrossa and HealthSpark Foundation President Russ Johnson, who co-founded the collaborative with JHF President Karen Feinstein in 2008.