What’s on the Minds of State Health Policymakers? New Reforming States Group Projects for 2019

Milbank State Leadership Network

This past fall, at meetings of the Reforming States Group (RSG), 101 state health policy leaders from 38 states gathered in Portland (Oregon), Charleston, and Louisville to share strategies for improving population health.

Legislators and executive branch leaders, usually attending as a state delegation, updated one another on recent health policy accomplishments and challenges in their home states, received briefings on selected issues, and modeled the bipartisan, collegial leadership that is the hallmark of the RSG.

Another hallmark of RSG meetings is a focus on topics of most interest to participants. “The RSG is led by a group of dedicated Steering Committee members,” said Michelle Alletto, program officer at the Fund. “During the meetings, we hear about the topics of most concern to our state leaders. And if state leaders determine that the Fund can make a unique contribution, those are the areas we pursue the next year. The topics are not prioritized by us, but by them.”

The policy opportunities identified by states that will be pursued by the RSG in 2019 are:

  • Maximizing funding streams to provide adequate mental health services along the continuum of care
  • Addressing the particular policy challenges posed by state-operated inpatient psychiatric services
  • Developing a bipartisan, shared language to discuss the problem of escalating health care costs, a follow-up to Fund work in 2017 on state legislative health care values and priorities
  • Recognizing the multigenerational impact of the opioid epidemic, multi-year focus of the Fund in partnership with the United Hospital Fund.

A workgroup for each topic will be established, composed, and led by RSG members. The workgroup, with assistance from Fund staff, will develop the topic and identify the best evidence and experience for policymakers. The topic may culminate in a report, a briefing to RSG members, a meeting, or a combination of all three.

“This work is selected and led by RSG members,” noted Alletto. “The approach is practical—identifying the best evidence and enriched by the experience of these leaders on how to lead in states.”