The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is a private, independent foundation established in 2006 when Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield converted from nonprofit to for-profit ownership. A New York State statute allocated 5 percent of the market value to create the foundation. When Empire’s conversion was announced, New York’s health community recognized the opportunity for a strategic foundation to foster systemic change and improve New Yorkers’ health statewide and fought to ensure that as much money as possible would be devoted to NYSHealth.
Program Information: NYSHealth’s mission is to improve the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. It operates statewide, from the Eastern shore of Long Island to Niagara Falls to the northern Adirondacks. NYSHealth makes approximately half of its grants to organizations outside of New York City, to reflect the population distribution. It favors initiatives that can have impact statewide—at least in the long-run—no matter where the grantee organization is located.
- Financial Information:
Total Assets: $272,743,473 (FY 15)
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $10,046,153 (FY 15)
- Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services Grants
Healthy Neighborhoods Fund Initiative—The Healthy Neighborhoods Fund supports six communities across New York State to increase the availability of healthy, affordable food and improve access to safe places where residents can exercise and be active ($2 million over two years).
- Developing an Online Shopping Tool for Health Care in New York—Consumers find it challenging to find good information about health care quality and price. A user-friendly online tool allowing consumers to compare health care providers on a range of indicators could help them make informed decisions ($752,808).
- Advocacy for Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids—Many eligible New York City schoolchildren opt out of the free lunch program because of stigma and bullying. Universal free lunch—which has been implemented in many other places—would encourage more students to eat a nutritious lunch at school ($300,000).
- Expanding Patient and Caregiver Access to Health Information in the Age of HIPAA—Ironically, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s consumer protections are sometimes misconstrued in ways that stymie patients’ and caregivers’ access to critical health information. NYSHealth is working to address the barriers that impede access to appropriate health information in New York State ($99,673).
- Replicating a Model of Health Care Services for Resettled Refugees—As many as five thousand refugees per year resettle in upstate New York. NYSHealth supported the development and replication of a model to increase access to primary care services for refugees and ensure continuity of care in three upstate communities ($362,284).
“As NYSHealth enters its second decade, my vision for the organization is that we will be a changemaker, more than just a grantmaker. We will use all our capital—reputational, financial, and human—to make change. We have prided ourselves on our role as a convener that can bring together diverse stakeholders to tackle a common problem and find consensus. As a more established organization, we may take more activist stances on policies and practices that could improve New Yorkers’ health.”
David Sandman, President and CEO