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Grant will help explore sources of health funding in NH

Union Leader Correspondent

July 29. 2013 11:03PM

DURHAM— A new grant awarded to the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice (NHIHPP) at the University of New Hampshire will help to identify the state's myriad sources of public health funding.
The goal of the $150,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to improve the funding and delivery of public health services in the state.
The project is being led by NHIHPP, a research institute at UNH, in collaboration with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Health Institute and four community-based public health entities in Manchester, the Monadnock region, the Lakes Region and the North Country.
"New Hampshire has a particularly complex public health infrastructure. It's not clear exactly how the services we receive as people are being paid for," said Jo Porter, deputy director of the NHIHPP and principal investigator on the grant.
The project will focus on funding for addressing tobacco prevention services, which Porter said may be supported by a range of sources, including state funding, community organizations, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations.
She said understanding how public health initiatives are funded can help communities better address public health issues.
Among the questions the project will probe is whether communities are more or less engaged with public health initiatives when there are many sources of smaller amounts of funding or a single large source, such as the federal or state government.
"When you figure out the contribution of the players, the picture of public health delivery can change," Porter said. "As resources get scarcer, we have to be really thoughtful about funding sources and who they can be."
Through the project, NHIHPP hopes to develop a generic tool that can be used throughout the country to help collect financial and operating data, allowing other states to evaluate their own public health funding.
Porter said their premise is that there are many often unnamed or unexpected contributors to how public health work happens, particularly in New Hampshire where much of the public health function is not performed by municipal public health agencies.
"There is an interesting mix of places and contributors to public health in New Hampshire, foundations certainly provide a lot of funding to local agencies to perform miscellaneous public health functions, there's money that becomes available through nonprofit organizations, and there is some governmental funding for sure and what that mix looks like is a little unclear," Porter said.
Figuring it out could lead to a better understanding of where synergies might lie among funders.
How many partners there are in a location may also have an impact and is something else the project will explore.
The first phase of the 18-month project will involve meeting with the four community partners in Manchester, the Monadnock region, the Lakes Region and the North Country to learn more about who their funding agencies are, how they get funded, and how they track that funding.
Following that, the researchers will create a more systematic tool for data collection to understand what the dollars are and how resources are allocated differently based on the topic.
"When you think about the varying funding agencies and the varying ways this public health service delivery happens, the scope of variability can be tremendous and that is one of the challenges we are going to face going forward," Porter said.


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