The week that wasn’t
Foundation cuts spending, focuses on research
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.