About the Initiative

HPHE launchThe Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative
was launched on November 30, 2010, at a special press conference at the Massachusetts State House. The initiative is led by the 
Boston Foundation and NEHI, with the support of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and numerous other valuable contributors.

The initiative's work is targeted at stemming a rising tide of preventable chronic illness and the threat it poses to the Commonwealth's health, fiscal stability and economic competitiveness. Left unchecked, higher rates of preventable chronic illness will create more medical needs and medical spending, draining limited resources from vital investments in education, the environment and other priorities that have a profound impact the quality of our health.


The Boston Paradox: Lots of Health Care, Not Enough Health
In 2007, a report written for the Boston Foundation and NEHI, titled
The Boston Paradox: Lots of Health Care, Not Enough Health, was the first view of Bostonians’ health status, health care delivery metrics and health care costs under one cover. With stunning statistics, the report revealed that despite increasing access to health care and accelerating health care costs, Greater Bostonians faced a rising tide of preventable chronic disease. These trends threaten both the physical health of Greater Boston residents and the fiscal health of cities, towns, businesses and households as health care costs absorb ever more resources and crowd out investment in other crucial priorities. Two years later, the continuing partnership between the Boston Foundation and NEHI resulted in another publication, this time focusing on the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Healthy People in a Healthy Economy: A Blueprint for Action in Massachusetts
Healthy People in a Healthy Economy: A Blueprint for Action in Massachusetts
 contained an action plan designed to combat the findings of the previous report.  
The second report, which came at the height of the recession, made the point that more than half of all Massachusetts residents are either overweight or obese—a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and many other preventable chronic diseases. Indeed, diabetes in Massachusetts has jumped nearly 40 percent in just a decade, and three out of every five people with Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing complications such as heart disease and stroke. At a forum held at the Boston Foundation in June of 2010, participants discussed the need for a major coalition that would tackle the crisis—and move toward making Massachusetts the national leader in health and wellness.

Why Massachusetts?

In the past several years, diverse coalitions and commissions have come together to push for the enactment of our state’s groundbreaking legislation, with the goal of providing near-universal coverage for the Commonwealth’s residents and recommending a path toward cost containment through payment reform.

Now, more than ever, it is time for Massachusetts leaders to harness the remarkable assets of our region—including world-class institutions, a pioneering community of health professionals and a heritage of activism, innovation and accomplishments in public health—to catalyze a health revolution. Today’s tight fiscal constraints make our goals more challenging—and more essential than ever.

Building on the success of Mass in Motion, local efforts, such as Shape Up Somerville, the dedication of the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and innovative programs run by our stellar community health centers as well as a number of health insurance providers and a myriad of neighborhood-based groups, now is the time to move forward.

Healthy Foods


Administrative support for the
Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative
is provided by the Boston Foundation.

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