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Engaging Community Members in Health Policy Processes: A Mississippi Example

Author: BRIAN THARP and DANIELLE HOLLAR
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 24 No. 4

Legislation, such as the federal Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Reconciliation Act (1996), the Balanced Budget Act of
1997, and the authorization of federally-funded health insurance
coverage for children (State Children’s Health Insurance or SCHIP)
continues the shift of assigning increased power and responsibility for
health and human services “safety net” programs from the federal level
to the state level. Known as “devolution,” this complex shifting of
responsibility and accountability continues to evolve with increasing
transference of authority, control, and administration of social
programs to local governments. Such changes require an informed citi-
zenry and, hence, demand grassroots capacity building activities around
public policy issues. This article describes a project designed to build
the capacity of community-based organizations in several cities in
Mississippi to become involved in health care policy activities. The
primary purpose of this project was to inform and organize community
members around improving health policies for low-income children
and families.

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