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Health Philanthropy in 2017

January 2017

“Know your story,” Eric Kelly, President of the Quantum Foundation, urged the fellows at GIH’s recent Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy. People’s stories, he explained, are the wellspring of values that provide enduring strength through both favorable and challenging times.

Foundations and corporate giving programs have stories too. Stories that shape their values and commitments and, like a ship’s rudder, provide direction and stability. At one level, each health funder’s story will be different, but at their core grantmakers share a guiding commitment to equity, fairness, and opportunity for all people. 

In 2017, every American community will be affected by changes to the health policy landscape. Major modifications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are already under consideration, while other new or revised policies with the potential to affect access to health care or coverage may be revealed in time. The magnitude and implications of these changes are still unknown.

GIH will follow all policy developments closely and communicate what we know to those working in health philanthropy. Shortly after the election we held webinars on health reform-related grantmaking, the future of Medicaid, and the election’s implications for CHIP and children’s coverage. Upcoming calls will address the health care priorities of the new Administration, the election’s implications for the health of immigrant communities, and lessons learned from ACA implementation in selected states.

We anticipate that health priorities of ongoing concern in 2017 will include addiction, delivery system reform, veterans’ health, and rural health. We will pursue opportunities to communicate with the White House and federal policymakers on these and emerging topics, with an eye to using what we learn to inform those working in health philanthropy, support their work, and facilitate their engagement with policymakers on topics of shared interest.

At all times—but especially in times of division and debate—GIH has an important role to play as a forum for honest conversations among people with different points of view. Now, it is more important than ever for us to create opportunities for the constructive discussion of differing opinions—not just for the sake of argument, but to stimulate careful thinking and the evolution of new ideas for philanthropy and the nation’s health.

GIH’s story is an unwavering commitment to improving the health of all people, especially in vulnerable communities. In 2017, which marks our 35th anniversary, we look forward to working with health funders and our philanthropic partners to achieve this goal.