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UNH health policy institute wins $150K grant to study public health funding

The University of New Hampshire’s health policy research center has received a $150,000 grant to map the myriad sources of public health funding in the state.

Many people assume public health services are paid by government funds, and that is not always the case, Jo Porter, deputy director of the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice, said yesterday.

“It’s more complex than that. There are lots of different players involved in how we improve public health,” she said.

She said the study will identify what is being funded so scarce resources can be targeted to get the highest impact.

“This seeks to add some of that structure,” said Porter.

She said it also is important for citizens to know who is providing services in their communities.

Porter said the project is in collaboration with the state Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Health Institute, and community public health groups in Manchester, the Monadnock region, the North Country and the Lakes Region.

She said she will focus on funding addressing tobacco use and prevention. Tobacco prevention services may be supported by a range of sources, such as state funding, community organizations, hospitals and nonprofit organizations, she said.

Understanding how services are funded can help local officials better address health issues, Porter said. For example, the project will examine the extent to which communities are involved in public health initiatives when there are many small sources of funding or a single large source, such as from the government.

“When you figure out the contribution of the players, the picture of public health delivery can change. As resources get scarcer, we have to be really thoughtful about funding sources and who they can be,” she said.

The institute hopes to develop a generic tool from the study that can be used across the country to collect financial and operating information. The tool would allow other states to evaluate their financial networks and the relation to their public health services.

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