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Appalachian Health Policy Advisory Council Meeting Summaries

June 2015
The Appalachian Health Policy Advisory Council (AHPAC) met in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2015. Meeting activities included:
  • An introduction to the new members of the council, followed by an update on ARC activities. Highlights of the 2015 ARC study Appalachia Then and Now: Examining Changes to the Appalachian Region since 1965 were presented, including key findings on the Region's mortality rates. Members discussed the study's results and reflected on the changes they have witnessed during the Commission's history.
  • Discussion of two current health-related research efforts, both supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that focus on Appalachian health in an economic development context: "Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots" is a $1 million effort co-sponsored by ARC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; "Changing our Future" is a complementary research project being conducted by the Appalachia Funders Network with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support. AHPAC members discussed these partnerships, the Commission's growing engagement with foundations and other national organizations, and the impact of these projects on regional knowledge and resource development.
  • A presentation on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and discussed its significance and prevalence in Appalachia. AHPAC members provided input on reasons for the syndrome's higher incidence in Appalachia, and policy, cultural, and organizational approaches to combat it.
Members of the council also participated in a focus group discussion held as part of ARC's strategic planning process. Topics explored included emerging opportunities related to health care and health outcomes, and ARC's roles in advancing those opportunities.

May 2012
The Appalachian Health Policy Advisory Council met in Washington, D.C., on May 16, 2012, to discuss the following issues:
  • An update on the group's strategic planning exercises begun in 2011, which will be refined further in the next several months. ARC staff will summarize key issue areas and develop a "road map" for presenting these issues and related program investment scenarios to the Commission for further consideration.
  • An introduction to two health-related research projects to be disseminated by ARC in coming months, one addressing regional oral health conditions, and one examining regional disparities in health-care costs and access. AHPAC members will provide input on how best to disseminate the research's findings and apply its recommendations.
  • Efforts to bring the U.S. Department of Defense's medical Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) services to underserved communities. AHPAC members will consider opportunities to seek partnerships for deploying this program in their states.
The group also discussed the recent expansion of the Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project (ADCTP), a long-term partnership between ARC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has attracted major investment from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Together on Diabetes initiative. The ADCTP's success has spurred new opportunities to develop a complementary program aimed at preventing the onset of diabetes in the Appalachian Region.

Members also heard a report on the April 2012 ARC conference "Growing the Appalachian Food Economy: A Forum on Local Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture" and will consider potential future partnership initiatives addressing the link between food and health issues.

May 2011
The Appalachian Health Policy Advisory Council met in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2011, to discuss the following issues.
  • An update on ARC health program activities, including the 2011 Competition for Community-Based Substance Abuse Initiatives.
  • A continued discussion of plans for ARC's 2011 annual fall conference, Healthy Families: Healthy Future, to be held September 7-9, 2011, in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
  • Presentations from representatives from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), including deputy director David Mineta, who spoke on recent ONDCP activities in Appalachia, and science policy adviser Tim Condon, who spoke on the national Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan.

The council also continued the strategic planning exercise begun in prior meetings. Members recapped stakeholder roles and key health issues for the Appalachian Region as outlined at the January 2011 meeting, then prioritized seven key issues into focus areas. A summary of the exercise will be presented to ARC leadership during 2011 for further review and discussion.

January 2011
The Appalachian Health Policy Advisory Council met in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2011, to discuss the following issues.

  • An update on major new health-care funding soon to be released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.
  • A discussion of ARC's 2011 annual fall conference, which will focus on Appalachian health concerns. The council will have a role in planning the agenda for the conference, and will conduct several conference activities. The conference will be held September 7-9 in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
  • Presentations on two ongoing health research activities sponsored by ARC: a study documenting regional disparities in health-care access and health insurance coverage; and a study documenting oral health conditions and disparities in the Appalachian Region. Both studies are expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

The council also began a strategic planning exercise to help identify priorities and provide focus for the group's efforts in advising the Commission on regional health issues. The exercise will be concluded at a meeting to take place in the spring.