KFF’s Health Policy 101

Edited by Dr. Drew Altman
May 28, 2024
Dr. Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of KFF
I have long planned to create an online resource or mini “textbook” for faculty and students interested in health policy. One of the stumbling blocks is that there is no agreed upon definition of “health policy.”
We took a stab at it of sorts at KFF in our headquarters when we created a physical timeline—as shown in the photo above—of the central events in the history of our field on a wall in our headquarters in San Francisco. But, of course, you can’t all visit our offices to see our health policy history wall—and many of you may have quibbles if you did.
For us at KFF, our definition reflects our views and what we do: Health policy centers around, well policy–what the government does, and public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA, and heavily emphasizes financing and coverage.
We also focus relentlessly on people, not health professionals and health care institutions (I have never been fond of the word “provider”). Others have a more expansive definition and that’s fine. What I ultimately settled on doing is far simpler: Organizing the basic materials we have on the issues we work on, recognizing that they do not represent every topic of interest to the faculty and students we hope to assist.
The result is the following chapters. We will add chapters over time as we develop them. Our organization changes to play our role as an independent source of analysis, polling, and journalism on national health issues, and as that happens, we will add more content on subjects not covered in this first installment. We will also add chapters as we get feedback from you. And we will update the “101” at least annually as data and circumstances change.
Let me know if this is helpful and how it can be improved. You can reach me at…