Reimagining Our Public Health Systems: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems

This roundtable will address the many areas of alignment between the 3 groups, how the recommendations are really positioned action, why equity needs to be at the center of modernization, and how we are going to measure progress going forward.

The recommendations of this commission engage multiple sectors, including the federal level, the state level, and the local level of government, the health care system, the public health system, the business community, the nonprofit sector, and the academic and educational community.

View Roundtable Here.


Karen DeSalvo


Alonzo L. Plough
Brian Castrucci
Gail C. Christopher
Herminia Palacio


Genuine discussions about racial inequities are necessary, difficult, and urgent. Many forces work to keep people from discussing racism. Conversations and narratives often generate unproductive fear, shame, guilt, avoidance, and denial in the absence of honest reflections on race and the history of this country. We must move beyond that to a place of healing and action. Dr. Alonzo Plough, RWJF’s chief science officer, explains how in his book.

By Nadia J. Siddiqui, Dennis P. Andrulis, Derek A. Chapman, Kimberly Wilson, Beth Jacob, Gail C. Christopher, Naima Wong Croal

As Americans struggle with the protracted impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is increasingly difficult to avoid some sobering truths. Although comprehensive data on COVID-19 cases by poverty, race, and ethnicity remain limited, every day new numbers emerge showing the virus’ disproportionate toll on the poor, the marginalized, and communities of color.

For example, dramatically increased COVID-19 mortality has been observed in US counties with the highest poverty rates (19.3 deaths per 1,000 in counties with ≥20 percent living in poverty, compared to a range of 6.5 to 11.1 deaths per 1,000 in higher income counties) and in counties with the largest percentage of persons of color (17.1 deaths per 1,000). In 85 percent of states (17 of 20) with reliable COVID-19 data on race and ethnicity, black Americans had higher than expected COVID-19 diagnosis rates based on their share of the population within the state—and in 70 percent (14 of 20 states), black Americans were more likely to die from COVID-19, according to our analysis of The COVID Tracking Project data as of June 18, 2020 (Read more).

In 2009, the PLACE MATTERS teams embarked upon a process called “blueprinting” that bought together subject matter experts, communities, and other stakeholders in a problem solving process for documenting lessons, process,  methods, and strategies in ways that are useful for PLACE MATTERS Team’s work in communities.  The Community Strategies to End Racism report highlights key strategies and tactics, through this report, which can be tailored to address  health inequities in other communities and jurisdictions.

Place Matters: Advancing Health Equity documents some of the Place Matters Team’s early successes and efforts  to transform how communities understand and tackle persistent racial and ethnic health inequities.

This study, carried out by leading researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, provides important insight into how much of a fi nancial burden racial disparities are putting on our health care system and society at large. The researchers examined the direct costs associated with the provision of care to a sicker and more disadvantaged population, as well as the indirect costs of health inequities such as lost productivity, lost wages, absenteeism, family leave, and premature death.

This report tracks the stubborn persistence of concentrated poverty—poverty rates over 30 percent—in U.S. metropolitan areas over a period of nearly 40 years. Neighborhoods with povertyrates above 30 percent have been recognized as places with few opportunities for employment and education, high levels of disinvestment and crime, and meager civic participation. Living in such neighborhoods over extended periods reduces the life chances of children, whether their families are poor or not.

A series of reports commissioned in 2006 to the identify the social determinants confronting young men of color, and present public policy recommendations to address those obstacles, paving the way for a positive environmental change for this demographic group.

This report provides a comprehensive review of general and specific ACA provisions with the potential to significantly improve health and health care for millions of diverse populations and their communities.

In this report, we present an inventory of health care jobs occupied by people of color, and the changes in occupation mix over time. We then estimate job growth in the health care industry and present potential job opportunities for people of color. If we assume the current racial and ethnic distribution of the health care workforce persists, we would expect that in the future at least one-third of the total health care workforce will comprise people of color. This estimate is almost certainly lower than what will occur, because many people of color – especially Blacks and Hispanics – are in occupations that are among the fastest growing in the U.S.