by Amber Burkhart, Health Policy Fellow

In the beginning of October, both Ryan Biehle and I attended the 27th Annual State Health Policy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This conference, held by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), brought together over 600 health policy professionals from across the United States. Attendees varied in expertise from Medicaid, exchanges, long term and chronic care, payment and delivery system reform etc. NASHP strongly believes that the “responsibility for health care and health policy does not reside in a single state agency or department,” and therefore providing a forum for the exchange of wide-ranging information is critical in improving health care for all populations.

The 2014 distinguished keynote speaker was Elizabeth Bradley, PhD Professor at Yale School Public Health and co-author of The American Healthcare Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting us Less. The keynote centered on the idea that spending more on health care alone will not result in improved health outcomes. Healthcare, she argues, is only 20% of what determines an individual’s heath, while social, environmental and behavioral factors make up 60%. Given this framework, Professor Bradley asked what we are spending on social programs such as education and income support in hopes that sincerely engaging the social sector will change the dialogue around health care. 

The rest of the conference was divided into smaller breakout sessions that covered a multitude of health policy issues. Sessions ranged from public health-oriented conversations to more policy-based and health care reform discussions. Highlights from the breakout sessions included dialogue on strategies to achieve health equity in birth outcomes, examining dental access problems for low–income people, state payment reform innovations, and promising practices from the first year of health reform implementation.

Often the consumer voice is lost in these high-level policy discussions and therefore, by participating in the conference, its was CCHI’s hope to not only emphasize the importance of the consumer voice in these conversations, but also to gain new tools and resources to support our own mission back in Colorado.

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