Origin Story

The Alliance for Health Policy was founded in 1991 by Senators Rockefeller and Danforth, and held its first briefing in 1992.

Senator Rockefeller speaking at an Alliance for Health Reform event on December 16, 1992. Image courtesy of C-SPAN.

In the early 1990’s, health care was a rising concern for policymakers in the United States. The U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care, later called the Pepper Commission, had just issued recommendations on improving care for people with both long and short-term health needs. While viewpoints on the final recommendations varied, the Commission’s chair, Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller IV, firmly believed that continued efforts towards productive, bipartisan dialogue were a necessary component of solving the toughest health policy issues of the day.

Moreover, the complexities of the U.S. health care system were becoming increasingly apparent. The policymakers and Congressional staffers tasked with proposing and considering changes to the current system – and the journalists covering these issues – were clamoring for stable sources of information to help them sort through the many decisions they navigated daily.

To address this need, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), joined by Senator John “Jack” Danforth (R-MO), launched the Alliance for Health Reform in 1991. They envisioned a bipartisan educational forum for members of Congress, their staff, and the media to advance a shared understanding of the complexities of health policy through an exchange of facts, experiences, and differing perspectives. The Alliance held its first briefing in 1992, and from the start, staffers and journalists packed the briefing rooms, eager for this new and vital resource. The Alliance hosted well-regarded experts from every political perspective as panelists and guest speakers, creating forums for discussion and problem-solving that cut across the aisle. This new approach quickly garnered trust among policymakers and stakeholders, firmly establishing the Alliance as a stable resource for the latest health policy information on Capitol Hill and beyond.

Thirty years later, the Alliance continues this work. Now called the Alliance for Health Policy, the Alliance has championed the idea of trusted, comprehensive education from a diversity of voices, all firmly grounded in evidence. In an era of increased political polarization, the Alliance remains committed to being a trusted resource for advancing knowledge and understanding of health policy.

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