Health Policy Fellows Program

Health and health care are among the most complex and important issues of our day. Health issues affect every individual, family and economy in every community across our state and country. Elected officials are often required to make decisions on a variety of complex issues that affect health both directly and indirectly. These issues are sometimes clearly defined but can frequently be embedded in factors outside the influence of traditional health and health care. Such factors are often referred to as the social determinants of health.

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) developed the Health Policy Fellows Program in 2013 to provide members of the General Assembly with clear, evidence-based health policy information in a nonpartisan manner. The Fellows Program is intended to assist elected officials by providing resources and information related to complex health topics. This program also highlights the importance of considering health implications as factors across all policy decisions.

The Fellows Program includes national speakers as well as South Carolina experts. Panels of health and public health professionals provide information about our state’s health challenges and share examples of promising practices across the state that are achieving success in improving community health.

The full series of Fellows classes is an ongoing program that is offered every other year for members of the General Assembly. This map reflects Health Policy Fellows’ Home Districts.


Improving Health in South Carolina: Challenges and Opportunities

This class orients participants to South Carolina’s health status and determinants of health. Participants address questions related to the human and financial burden of poor health status and discuss innovative solutions that are being implemented nationally and across South Carolina.

Health Systems and Financing: Improving Return on Investment

This class enables participants to learn more about key issues related to the delivery of health care in the U.S. and South Carolina. An overview of the current structure of health care systems and financing is provided. Participants discuss changes that are occurring in our country as new philosophies emerge about how to pay for health care. They also address health care as a unique industry that does not adhere to basic economic theory.

Working Together to Improve Health

Health and health care delivery are among the most complex and divisive issues in our political system. During the final class of the Health Policy Fellows Program, participants learn how to explore productive models of communicating complex and polarizing issues by using a practical framework for engaging in open, balanced and effective dialogue.

Legislative Summit – Tomorrow’s Hope: Innovative Approaches to School Mental Health Services

As part of offering additional opportunities to Health Policy Fellows, IMPH hosted a one-day Legislative Summit entitled: Tomorrow’s Hope: Innovative Approaches to School Mental Health Services in October 2018. The intimate gathering of attendees included alumni of the Health Policy Fellows Program, legislative staff, government officials and members of the IMPH Board of Directors conversing with state and national experts. Together they discussed and learned about systemic approaches to expand access to school mental health services for early identification and intervention to mitigate emotional and behavioral problems that impact a child’s ability to learn.

School mental health services will be a legislative priority under school climate and safety for the 123rd Session of the South Carolina Legislature that started January 2019. The Summit revealed a desire for consistency throughout the state in terms of screenings, behavioral supports, training and resources for school mental health services. A cost-effective approach must be taken to ensure that the price tag does not kill the initiative. Statewide consistency must be mandated by the legislature. Moreover, all necessary stakeholders must be involved to embrace and advanced a shared agenda for school mental health services, while building consensus and support in the legislature.

To learn more about the Summit, please click here to read an overview of the proceedings.

Please contact Maya Pack for further information on the Health Policy Fellows Program.

IMPH gratefully acknowledges the support of The Duke Endowment and Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina in making the Health Policy Fellows Program possible.