The Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative (PHFC)—a collaboration of 32 health foundations across Pennsylvania—strives to improve the effectiveness of health funders’ initiatives by networking and creating a unified voice. PHFC is directed by Ann Torregrossa and co-chaired by Karen Wolk Feinstein, President/CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and Russell Johnson, President/CEO of the North Penn Community Health Foundation. PHFC advances health policies and initiatives that enhance vulnerable populations’ access to high-value health services. It has promoted the integration of physical and behavioral healthcare since its conception in 2007. For example, PHFC contracted with RAND to develop a roadmap for implementing integrated care and a report on policy barriers and strategies. PHFC also hired a consultant who published a report on the existing integrated care projects. The foundations have used these reports to inform regional initiatives, and PHFC has advocated for policies to sustain and catalyze these innovative services.
Health funders pooled resources together to fund the first and only Pennsylvania-specific reports on integrating physical and behavioral healthcare and to advocate for systemic policy reforms. Prior to PHFC, when healthcare organizations began to integrate physical and behavioral healthcare, they could access toolkits and reports to guide their work. However, these toolkits and reports were not specific to Pennsylvania’s health care system and policies, which significantly influence the implementation and sustainability of integrated care. Thus, PHFC funded reports that provided a roadmap for implementing integrated care in Pennsylvania, identified state policy barriers and strategies to overcome them, and explored the existing integrated care initiatives across Pennsylvania. PHFC is now pooling together the voices of health funders across Pennsylvania to advocate for state policies that will catalyze integrated care.
PHFC’s reports on integrating behavioral and physical healthcare in Pennsylvania have provided direction and resources to healthcare organizations. Healthcare providers can reference the reports to identify evidence-based models, local initiatives and experts that they could collaborate with, policy action items and financing strategies, consensus points from statewide conversations, and a menu of options for stakeholders regarding how to spread integrated care. In addition, several health funders, including the co-chairs of PHFC, have worked with healthcare organizations in their communities to encourage them to integrate care. For example, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation is now involved in two multi-million dollar, federally-funded projects to implement and disseminate evidence-based integrated care models in Pennsylvania. The Foundation is currently working with 28 primary care offices from 8 health care organizations.
In addition to creating resources to facilitate spread, PHFC is advocating for policies to sustain the integration of physical and behavioral healthcare. As mentioned above, the reports are serving as resources to providers who are implementing these innovative services. For example, when providers have a question about financing integrated care, they can reference the list of Pennsylvania experts. PHFC is now influencing state policies to sustain these services. For example, PHFC sent a letter to the gubernatorial candidates to present the business case and recommend policy changes. PHFC also presented policy briefs and the report to the state Administration during meetings with the Governor’s Office, Department of Public Welfare, and the Office of Medical Assistance Programs. At the federal-level, PHFC advocated for integrated care in comment letters to the Department of Health and Human Services on issues including Accountable Care Organizations, Health Insurance Exchanges, and Essential Health Benefits.
PHFC serves as a replicable model for health foundations in other states that want to create a statewide collaborative of health funders. The collaborative convenes funders at least once a year, develops presentations and position papers, keeps funders informed of state and federal health policy developments, works with state administrations, and responds to “moment-in-time” issues that fall under PHFC’s scope of enhancing vulnerable population’s access to high quality and cost-effective health services. These activities require in-kind administrative support from a foundation, two co-chairs from opposite ends of the state, and a part-time executive director whose related-expenses are funded by contributions from the foundations. This low-cost, high-impact infrastructure can be replicated by funders in other states who wish to collaborate and create a unified, statewide voice to influence health issues that have a profound effect on vulnerable populations and their grantees.
This is not applicable to PHFC, because PHFC focuses on collaborative action, which indirectly strengthens and increases the effect of community initiatives across Pennsylvania.