By Brieanne Lyda-McDonald
The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) this month began hosting the third cohort of the Legislative Health Policy Fellows Program to provide General Assembly members with resources and data to inform health policy decision-making and priorities. The 2021 class of Legislative Health Policy Fellows is comprised of 15 state legislators (see full list of participants below).
North Carolina allocates over 30% of the state’s budget toward health-related services. Given the large portion of the state budget dedicated to health and health care, decisions regarding health policy have tremendous impact on North Carolina’s economy and the health of communities across the state. These decisions are among the most important responsibilities of state legislators.
Fellows learn about health issues facing North Carolina, the structure and financing of the state’s health care system, priorities for health care delivery, and opportunities for improving health. Sessions provide information on public and private health care financing, the role of Health and Human Services agencies, and resources for health policy data and research. In addition, the program allows participating legislators to identify their health care priority topics for later sessions and provides opportunities for dialogue with colleagues and experts about how best to approach health policy decision-making for North Carolina.
Past fellows have appreciated the program, saying that it made them more confident in their abilities, improved their connections to resources and staff at NCIOM, helped them get to know some of their colleagues from across the aisle, and gave them access to the knowledge of experts in the field of health policy.
The NCIOM hosted the first session of the 2021 Legislative Health Policy Fellows Program on October 4, covering “Top Things to Know About US Health Policy from the State Perspective,” “Health and the Economy,” and an overview of local public health, Medicaid, safety net providers, and private insurance in the state.
“Health policy is both extraordinarily complex and very concrete – all of us need care at some point, and we experience that within a system that has both deep strengths and persistent challenges,” says Kathy Colville, President and CEO of the NCIOM. “The 15 North Carolina elected officials who have chosen to participate in this year’s Legislative Health Policy Fellows program and the 41 alumni of the program are committed to understanding health care, health insurance, state and federal policy, and all the other complexities. They should be commended for their desire to learn more about this important policy area and for their willingness to do this across party lines in a non-partisan, evidence-based, and solution-focused environment.”
The Legislative Health Policy Fellows Program is funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Cone Health, and the Duke Endowment.