Stacy Becker

Vice President, Programs

financing the futureAt ReThink Health, we work with leaders who aspire to transform health in their regions, and in the process, we always encourage them to ask themselves three questions:

  1. What will we do to transform health?
  2. How will we pay for it?
  3. How proud would we be?

[Note: We also encourage them to clarify who comprises “we” in these questions.]

These may be simple questions, but the answers are not easy. The process of identifying and agreeing on a change agenda that diverse constituencies would be proud of can be quite challenging (see our Stewardship Guide for guidance here).  And when it comes to the question about money, well, we have seen that financing can be downright overwhelming.

Take a personal health financing issue, for example.  On average, a healthy 65-year old couple can expect to spend about $400,000 of their own money in retirement on health care.  That sounds crazy, right?  How does one go about planning for such a thing?

The same holds for financing health care at the population level.  In 2014, Rethink Health conducted its first ever Pulse Check of Multi-Sector Partnerships for Health1 which is a tool designed to understand the approaches and core challenges that stand out to leaders who are engaged in multi-sector initiatives to enhance health and resilience in regions across the country. One of the key findings was that while leaders can easily envision what transformed health looks like, nearly 75% of those who responded said they are having difficulty developing a financing plan that would allow them to achieve that vision.

To help leaders get their arms around the financing challenge, we created: Financing Regional Health Transformation: A Primer for Changemakers. Developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rippel Foundation, the Financing Primer is designed to help leaders think through some key questions around the investment and financing of long-term, health reform ventures. It is a multi-media suite of curated content that includes podcasts, reports, videos, simulated investment scenarios, and other resources. It focuses on what sustainable financing is, why it is important, the critical elements of a financing plan, and what others around the country have been doing to frame and finance their work.

The Primer addresses seven key questions:

  1. Imperative: Why undertake such a daunting challenge?
  2. Potential: What is possible if we change where we invest rather than just how much?
  3. Opportunities: What investment scenarios lead to markedly better outcomes?
  4. Strategic Context: What does it take to do business differently—together?
  5. Practice Profiles: What are multi-sector partnerships doing to finance their health reform ventures?
  6. Mechanisms: What options are emerging to finance long-term, health reform ventures?
  7. Movements & Initiatives: What is being done to reshape regional health economies?

Check out the Financing Primer at and tell us what you think! In the months ahead we will be diving much more deeply into topics such as these, so we want to know:

  • Does the primer meet your needs?
  • What unanswered questions do you have around the financing of your health ventures?

Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts. Also, from Monday April 25th-Friday May 6th, the ReThink Health Financing Team will be leading a two-week topic cycle in the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI)’s HealthDoers Open Community. Join today by visiting this link! New members should select “I want to join a community” followed by “Open Community”. We look forward to a conversation on rethinking financing for regional health transformation.

1 This Pulse Check is currently being updated and expanded for 2016. Leaders of multi-sector partnerships who would like to participate can sign up here:

Stacey Becker is the director of sustainable financing for ReThink Health. Becker is also a public policy consultant and former budget director for San Francisco and St. Paul.

The personal views and opinions expressed in this blog (and in any comments) are those of the original authors only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Rippel Foundation or ReThink Health. Neither The Rippel Foundation nor ReThink Health is responsible for the accuracy or validity of any of the information contained in the blog or any comments. All information is provided on an “as-is” basis.

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