The Atlantic Philanthropies Awards Community Catalyst $14.8 Million to Strengthen the Voice of Consumers in Health System Transformation

Legacy grant will support new Center for Consumer and Community Engagement 

BOSTON Community Catalyst has been awarded a five-year $14.8 million legacy grant by The Atlantic Philanthropies to develop and promote a consumer agenda around “health system transformation,” fundamental changes in the health system that are reshaping the delivery of health care for all Americans. 

The centerpiece of Community Catalyst’s strategy will be the creation of The Center for Consumer and Community Engagement (The Center), a hub devoted to teaching, learning, and exporting knowledge about transforming the health system. The Center will collaborate with and support the work of organizations that represent and advocate for the most vulnerable. The Center will provide consumer health advocates with the “next-generation” skills they will need to assess the financial complexity and risk involved with new models of care and the organizing and technical skills necessary to fully participate with powerful stakeholders in health system transformation debates.

“Improving health care access and quality and reducing cost are critical to addressing social and economic disparities in the U.S.,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies. “Community Catalyst has embraced these challenges and has successfully promoted major changes in policy and practice so that our health systems meet their promise for vulnerable people. This final Atlantic ‘big bet’ on an anchor organization like Community Catalyst will enable it to further develop the capacities, skills and tools necessary to meet the challenges of health care transformation.” 

Rising health costs have largely been the major driver of changes in the health care finance and delivery system. The U.S. currently spends twice as much per capita on health care as any Western democracy, yet the country’s health outcomes lag behind those of peer nations. The system is also marred by excessive prices, variable quality, inefficiency, fragmentation, health inequities and its lack of people-centeredness. The Atlantic Philanthropies’ legacy grant acknowledges the important role organized consumers have to play in this next phase of health reform.

“There’s a lot at stake for consumers, particularly those who need the system the most,” said Robert Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst. “Too many people are falling through the cracks due to lack of coordination, poor quality care, or the inability to get services they need. We’re spending a lot of money on a system that’s not working for the people it’s intended to serve. With this investment from The Atlantic Philanthropies, we’re going to work to change that.”

Community Catalyst has long been involved in efforts to improve the delivery and quality of care for the most vulnerable including individuals with chronic conditions, frail older adults and people with disabilities. Community Catalyst helped found the Commonwealth Care Alliance, an innovative health plan for people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and, with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, has been on the front lines making health plans work for those consumers.

“Community Catalyst has an extraordinary track record of success in supporting and amplifying an organized consumer voice within the health care system, including the increasingly important area of payment and delivery system reform” said Sara Kay, Head of Advocacy and Health Equity Programmes, The Atlantic Philanthropies. “Creation of The Center will build on this strong foundation and equip advocates to ensure that health system transformation lives up to its promise for the most vulnerable people.”

The grant will also support Community Catalyst’s efforts to prepare consumer advocates to move a consumer-centered health system transformation agenda through:

  • Research and Evaluation
    Community Catalyst will partner with other organizations to conduct research and evaluation to build the evidence base for why consumer and community engagement matters and why policymakers need to include consumer engagement in setting “the rules of the road.”
  • Investments in State Advocacy
    Many states are leading the way in efforts to improve existing delivery systems and introduce new models of care, which have the potential for national impact. Community Catalyst will make strategic investments through sub-grants and technical assistance in states where an aggressive consumer advocacy campaign will make a notable difference in pushing for health system transformation.
  • Leadership Development
    A leadership development program run by The Center will engage leaders in the health care community broadly to collaborate and share knowledge with advocacy organizations.
  • Strengthening State and Federal Advocacy Infrastructure
    A portion of the grant will support the Community Catalyst Action Fund (CCAF), a 501(c)(4), to strengthen the voice of Community Catalyst and partner organization in Washington, DC and in state capitals.
  • Providing Support Services to Delivery Systems and Health Plans
    Community Catalyst will build on the current work of its Voices for Better Health project to provide consultative services on consumer engagement to safety-net health plans and providers seeking to participate in accountable care organizations (ACOs), health homes or demonstration programs for those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

The Center for Consumer and Community Engagement is expected to formally launch in the fall of 2015. Community Catalyst will be required to raise matching funds over the course of the grant, which is designed to be a foundation for the organization’s sustainability over time.


About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.

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