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Report: Health Care “Giving” Not Going Where Help is Needed Most

April 19, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - It's a line of cash that the public doesn't usually consider, but billions of dollars flow each year into the health care system in the form of grants from charitable foundations. A new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy tracks some of that cash to see how well it's being used to improve health care access for those who have been shut out of the system.

Study author Terri Langston found only that about 30 percent of foundations appear to be dedicated to the cause.

"That's just not enough in a country where we do tend to marginalize people, we do tend to turn our backs on groups that are under-served."

She says the report is intended to encourage those who make decisions about grants to think about their effectiveness, if money only supports the status quo, and argues that approach isn't sustainable because of ballooning costs and unequal access to care.

"It goes into the system as it is, but not into the system as it should be, and that begs the question of about what should the system be? The system should be far more efficient."

The California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment are examples of grant-makers who are deemed to be on the 'right track.' Langston says they dedicate money to help streamline health care delivery, to change laws, and to make improvements in care for the poor, people of color, those with disabilities, and Californians who live in areas with few doctors.

The study looked at 880 foundations and grant-makers that give to health care causes.

The full report, "Towards Transformative Changes in Health Care," is at

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - CA