RWJ Foundation tackles influential health factors

WASHINGTON: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched a nonpartisan commission to address the various influences on the health industry. The commission was announced last Thursday in Washington DC, and its work is expected to carry into early 2009.

WASHINGTON: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched a nonpartisan commission to address the various influences on the health industry. The commission was announced last Thursday in Washington DC, and its work is expected to carry into early 2009.

The commission, titled the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America, will focus on a number of non-medical factors influencing our health, including why poor Americans experience substandard health, and how the health gaps affect US productivity and competitiveness.

Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) and Burness Communications are working with the commission. Allison May Rosen, head of CCA's Washington DC operations, said the two agencies will reach out to various advocacy groups to raise awareness.

The agencies have been working on recruitment, message development, and strategic planning for the launch, said Ann Christiano, senior communications officer for the foundation.

"[The commission] wanted to take a serious look at factors outside the health care system [that] affect our health," Christiano added. "The end result will be a set of recommendations to address these problems."

Rosen noted that targeted organizations will not be traditional health care groups, and so it will be important to present statistics in a way that will make sense to them. These groups will be focused on education, housing, labor, and transportation, among others, Rosen said.

"When you have a discussion about health in this country, people think it's interchangeable with health care," Christiano said. "But what leads someone to be healthy? That discussion is one we're going to have with groups that may not typically be engaged in a health discussion."

Mark McClellan, former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Alice Rivlin, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Greater Washington Research Program, will co-chair the commission.

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