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Mathematica Evaluation Demonstrates Effectiveness of State-Based Advocacy Program
Health Affairs Features the Consumer Voices for Coverage Evaluation in This Month’s Issue

Contact: Amy Berridge, (609) 945-3378

WASHINGTON, DC—September 15, 2011—Consumer advocacy organizations have historically spearheaded efforts to adopt policies and practices leading to expansions and improvements in health insurance coverage, at times with financial support and grants from private foundations. But foundations are cautious in helping these groups because the effects of advocacy—and hence its value—are hard to measure.

This month’s GrantWatch section in Health Affairs examines Mathematica Policy Research’s evaluation of Consumer Voices for Coverage, a grant program established by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supporting coalitions of consumer advocacy organizations in 12 states. The evaluation looked at the program’s effects over a three-year grant period. It found that Consumer Voices for Coverage helped consumer groups increase their advocacy skills and their say in health reform and policy in a number of ways.

“We found the program helped bring consumer groups together so their voices could be heard on important state health policy issues,” said Debra Strong, senior researcher at Mathematica and lead author of the paper. “While many different groups and forces influence public policy, there is a strong pattern of evidence over time and across 12 states that the program helped establish the coalitions and strengthened their capacity to advocate effectively.”

A majority of state policymakers also reported that the program fostered greater consumer involvement and effectiveness in shaping health policy. In fact, as federal health reform continues to be implemented, many state policymakers want to keep these consumer advocates engaged in the process. Based on the evaluation, Consumer Voices for Coverage provides a useful model to continue that engagement.

       Read the article in Health Affairs

About Mathematica: Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan research firm, provides a full range of research and data collection services, including program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management, to improve public well-being. Its clients include federal and state governments, foundations, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, N.J., Ann Arbor, Mich., Cambridge, Mass., Chicago, Ill., Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C., has conducted some of the most important studies of health care, education, international, disability, family support, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.