Governors’ Health and Humans Services Policy Advisors Institute 2022

The Governors’ Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute provided a valuable space for Governors’ advisors, subject matter experts, and partners to convene and learn from each other.

by Myra Masood

The National Governors Association (NGA) recently hosted the Governors’ Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute September 13-15 in Greensboro, NC. The annual Institute brought together Governors’ health and human services advisors, state officials, and subject matter experts to discuss some of the most pressing issues for health advisors. During the public health portion of the Institute, topics such as public health infrastructure reform, the state of  rural health, and public health communication strategies were discussed. 

The first public health session focused on how states and territories can rebuild their systems to strengthen public health infrastructure, reimagine the public health workforce, and promote the health of every person in every community.

Dr. Pooja Kumar of McKinsey & Company provided the framing for the session and led a conversation with Dr. Margaret Bordeaux of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Brian Castrucci of de Beaumont Foundation, and Domonique Sanchez of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office. The panelists emphasized the need for bipartisan policy solutions that address the gaps in the current public health system. Through prioritizing data modernization, workforce development, updated governance, and finance structures, states can be better equipped to address future public health emergencies. The NGA  covered this topic and more in a 2022 webinar series on Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System.

The second public health session explored the current landscape of public health in rural communities. Brittney Roy, Program Director for Public Health at NGA, moderated a conversation with Dr. Alana Knudson of NORC at the University of Chicago, Dr. Soujanya Pulluru of Walmart Health Omnichannel Care, and Maggie Sauer of the North Carolina Office of Rural Health. This session provided insight on how states and territories  can identify potential for actional change to better rural health. The conversation emphasized the importance of meeting people where they are when developing policy and considering the importance of Social Determinants of Health. The panel also discussed innovative practices including Walmart’s health centers and the effectiveness of the whole person health model to ensure care for vulnerable populations.

At the end of day one, attendees broke out into small roundtable discussions on Key Priorities in Health and Human Services to discuss strategies and challenges. State and territorial representatives convened over a variety of topics touching health and human services including public health infrastructure, maternal and infant health, and rural health. These small groups allowed participants to go in depth on public health topics and discuss best practices with states and territories across the nation.

During the second day of the Institute, participants once again broke out into small discussion groups with one group discussion covering how advisors can use behavioral insights to improve policy decision making. Leah Everist, an advisor at Behavioral Insights Team, gave an overview of how behavioral science and learning how people make choices impacts policy. Alyson Neel, communications director of the Louisiana Department of Health, and Algeria Wilson, Health & Equity Policy Advisor at the Office of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, presented on integration of behavioral insights into their state’s respective COVID-19 vaccination campaigns though a learning lab series with NGA and Behavioral Insights Team. Through the learning lab, states were able to determine communications and policy strategies to increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Governors’ Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute provided a valuable space for Governors’ advisors, subject matter experts, and partners to convene and learn from each other. NGA’s Center for Best Practices supports Governors and their staff as they tackle public health challenges. Please Click here for more information.