Priority: Access to Care
From the foundation’s earliest days, Vitalyst’s Board of Trustees held an abiding strategic and practical interest in supporting access to care and coverage. It was then and is now both a natural and critical critical focus, given our legacy and our mission. Highlights of that 20-year journey:
1996 That first Board meeting had to have been uniquely interesting. People entrusted to steward a hospital system were now given the challenge of improving health without direct control of physicians and facilities. In fact, Trustees from that time recall how easily they approved grants for transportation to health facilities (after they got over the idea of ‘supporting competing hospitals’). Beyond those “van” grants, significant donor-directed funds for hearing, vision and dental care were also granted.
The journey had begun, and bigger questions quickly presented themselves. Work began on exploring systems and policy issues. How strong was Arizona’s safety net system? How could behavioral and oral health be better?
1998 Investment began in enrollment outreach for uninsured children who were eligible for KidsCare (the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Arizona). Into the Light, a comprehensive publication and website for behavioral health, debuted in 1999.
2000 Arizona Health Futures, an influential series of more than 80 health policy publications, began.
2002 The landmark Coming of Age publication and series of statewide convenings analyzed the associated health care and economic impact of aging demographics in Arizona.
2004 The publication Arizona CAN! – Coverage and Access Now – laid out the pros and cons for four expanded health coverage scenarios. It laid out the guiding principles that would propel us toward the Cover Arizona Coalition a decade later.
2006 Coverage and Access work continued with The Choice Dialogues, a series of statewide decision forums and a summary publication that put consumers in the decision-making driver’s seat.
Stakeholders paid strong attention. Serious mental illness, a breadth of workforce issues, the safety net system, bioethics, psychotropic drugs and more were all subjects for analysis and insight. The work served as a magnet for discussion, reaction, and action.
2010 The 2,700 page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed into law. By then, Vitalyst had both the experience, the partners and the reputation to help tackle the most impactful legislation on access and coverage in more than four decades. Together we answered the call, first with the ImpACT Arizona publication and then with the ground-breaking Cover Arizona Coalition.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED IN 20 YEARS: Clarity is not Overrated
Cover Arizona, and successes like it, hold the essence of successful policy and systems change. It starts with being purposeful and clear in your principles. It is built by continually connecting with those who hold mutual interests. It is strengthened by nurturing relationships – by cultivating the capacity to be powerful and make an impact. The key is to be as judicious, opportunistic, and as innovative as is needed to reach your goals – no more, no less. Clarity of purpose, collaborative power and mindful action will beat one person’s clever thinking and maneuvering every time.
THE ROAD TO SUCCESS IS ALWAYS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. —Arnold Palmer