Based in Topeka, the Kansas Health Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy and research organization focused on issues that impact the health of Kansans. The Kansas Health Institute was established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The foundation made the commitment based on its conclusion that health policy decisions often were based on fragmented, anecdotal and sometimes biased information.

At the time, KHI was unique in its status as a state-focused health policy organization that was independent, non-university based, and supported primarily by philanthropy. Since then, Colorado and Ohio have established similar institutes and other states are exploring this model.

KHI continues to be sustained by a core operating grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, but also obtains significant project-specific funding from other foundations, as well as state and federal agencies. The annual budget has grown to slightly more than $3 million.

KHI staff members are drawn from diverse disciplines, including medicine, public and community health, health policy and management, law, anthropology, political science, sociology, health administration, engineering, communications, journalism and business. In addition, the work of KHI involves numerous consultants who provide additional expertise on selected projects.

The mission of the institute is to inform policymakers by identifying, producing, analyzing and communicating information that is timely, relevant and objective. As a part of that mission, KHI works to help policymakers understand how the health of Kansans is influenced by a wide range of factors, including socioeconomic status, cultural diversity, lifestyle choices, the quality of communities and the financing, organization and effectiveness of our public health and health care systems.

The institute has been headed since 1998 by Robert F. St. Peter, M.D. Its founding president was Charles Gessert, M.D., who served from 1995 to 1997. After Gessert, Alvin Tarlov, M.D. served as interim president until St. Peter’s arrival in 1998.