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Archives: KHI News Service

On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org.

Sebelius lays down health challenge to KC region

By Mike Sherry, HEARTLAND HEALTH MONITOR | September 15, 2015

Sebelius lays down health challenge to KC region
Photo by Mike Sherry Kathleen Sebelius, left, former Kansas governor and U.S. secretary of health, receives a token of appreciation from Dr. Bridget McCandless, CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Sebelius spoke Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., at an event marking the foundation’s first decade.

On Kansas Public Radio

Listen to a report on the event by Jim McLean of the KHI News Service: Sebelius says Obamacare repeal promises unrealistic.

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City invited Kathleen Sebelius to help it celebrate its first decade of grant making, but the woman who has served as both U.S. health secretary and Kansas governor came armed with a big idea for the next decade.

“I think the challenge over the next 10 years is: How do you make Kansas City the healthiest region in the country?” Sebelius said at the foundation’s Tuesday luncheon in Kansas City, Mo. “I think that is a very reasonable goal. I don’t think that is at all out of reach.”

That mantle “does not mean you have the fewest people in the hospital,” she added, “but that you have the most people who are really living and working to their full potential.”

The foundation was established in 2003 with part of the proceeds from the $1.1 billion sale of Health Midwest, a nonprofit hospital system, to Nashville-based HCA, a for-profit company. The sale also established the REACH Healthcare Foundation, which is based in Merriam, Kan.

“I think the challenge over the next 10 years is: How do you make Kansas City the healthiest region in the country?”

- Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and U.S. health secretary

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City began making grants two years after its formation, and since then, it has awarded more than $200 million to more than 400 organizations, according to its 10th anniversary website.

Sebelius lauded the foundation for the spirit of cooperation it has fostered in a decade’s worth of work, especially in the area of nutrition. “You have a lot to teach the rest of the country,” she said.

She also applauded the foundation for its early recognition of the importance of the so-called social determinants of health. Those are the factors in one’s community — such as a lack of good sidewalks or places to exercise — that can contribute to physical problems.

That concept now is becoming more common in health conversations in the United States and around the world, Sebelius said.

By some estimates, she said, the U.S. economy loses about $300 billion a year in productivity from populations that are in poor health, often people in poor and minority communities.

“The leadership of this foundation over the past 10 years cannot be underestimated,” Sebelius said. “I know lots of communities would love to have that opportunity. There is no question that health is good for individuals, it’s good for families and it’s good for communities.”