Oct. 9, 1997
Vol. 17, No. 2

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    Health policy council shifts focus to influencing decisions

    By Catherine Behan
    News Office

    The Chicago Health

    Policy Research Council

    at the University of Chicago has a new home and a new mission.

    The council has moved from its former home at the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies to the Center for Health Administration Studies at the School of Social Service Administration.

    Its mission has shifted from supporting research to informing policy makers, community leaders and purveyors of health insurance about key changes in health care delivery in the city and state, said Richard Sewell, Executive Director.

    The council is focusing on providing access to research and data to help steer decisions on health policy in Illinois. Right now, for example, Illinois officials are studying how to lower the number of children who don't have health insurance. With that in mind, the council's Oct. 17 Downtown Health Policy Series session will highlight advances in providing health insurance for children.

    "Policy makers in Illinois now have to decide how people are insured," said Sewell, former deputy commissioner for public health and clinical services with the Chicago Department of Health. "It is our hope to influence that decision based on the findings of researchers who look at limitations of insurance.

    "We want Illinois not just to look at the bottom line, but to improve the access and quality of medical care."

    The Chicago Health Policy Research Council was established in 1993 through a grant from the Chicago Community Trust. Between 1993 and 1996, the council focused on research of health issues in Chicago. Its goal was to bridge the gap between policy makers and academics doing health services research that could be used in health policy making. Since 1993, about 30 research projects were funded by Chicago Community Trust at universities throughout the city, including the University.

    With its change in focus, the Chicago Health Policy Research Council will have several new functions, including producing a quarterly report called the Chicago Health Care Report, a scorecard of key indicators monitoring change in health care in Chicago. The first report is due out later this month.