The week that wasn’t

Foun­da­tion cuts spending, fo­cuses on re­search

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Re­becca Ve­sely

Cover the Unin­sured Week is not what it used to be. The eighth an­nual event was held last week with much less of the pub­lic fan­fare that his­tor­i­cally has marked the event. The spon­sor­ship group that launched the week­long cam­paign—the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion—has in re­cent years pulled back on its spending and in­volve­ment, a move of­fi­cials say re­flects greater pub­lic un­der­stand­ing about the plight of the unin­sured.

“The orig­i­nal idea was to en­sure that there was aware­ness about the prob­lem of the unin­sured,” said Andy Hy­man, se­nior pro­gram of­fi­cer and team di­rec­tor of the health­care cov­er­age pro­gram at the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion, based in Prince­ton, N.J. “The fo­cus this year is al­most en­tirely on re­search.”

In 2003, when the event started, one could ar­gue that mem­bers of the pub­lic and even some pol­i­cy­mak­ers thought the term “the unin­sured” re­ferred to peo­ple without auto or home in­sur­ance.

The Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion set out to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on the cov­er­age cri­sis, based on solid re­search. From 2002 to 2004, the foun­da­tion funded the In­sti­tute of Medicine’s work on the unin­sured, which cul­mi­nated in six vol­umes of re­ports. In 2008, the IOM up­dated its find­ings on the unin­sured.

In ad­di­tion to re­search, the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion spent money in prior years on ad­ver­tis­ing and pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns around the week, and put on events with lo­cal part­ners.

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