Rebecca Onie


Health Leads Gets $4.5M To ‘Prescribe’ Food, Utilities To Low-Income Patients

The Boston nonprofit Health Leads, whose successful programs have doctors “prescribing” basic resources like food, transportation, housing and heating assistance to low-income patients to boost their overall health, announced it’s been awarded $4.5 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand their programs and “to demonstrate the economic value of our model.”

Here’s the news release:

“We are pleased to provide this renewed funding for Health Leads, whose innovative model helps to eliminate the social barriers that stand in the way of people improving their health,” says Wendy Yallowitz, program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Vulnerable Populations portfolio.  “We look forward to working with Health Leads as it continues to build the infrastructure needed to scale its model and help change the way health care is delivered so that patients’ unmet resource needs are addressed as a standard part of medical care.”

The largest grant in our 16-year history, the funds will support the growth and evaluation of our program to build a case that compels the US health care system to invest financially in connecting patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy.  This grant also allows Health Leads to make the key capacity investments in technology and talent necessary to support this work.

“Health Leads envisions a health care system that connects low-income patients to resources such as food and utilities as routinely as it makes any other subspecialty referral,” says CEO and Co-Founder Rebecca Onie.  “Health Leads is uniquely positioned through our partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to quantify the impact of a model that systematically addresses the intersection of poverty and health by making these connections.” Continue reading

Health Reform That No Judicial Ruling Can Stop

Health Leads CEO Rebecca Onie says health reform, particularly for the poor, will continue despite the current uncertainty

Rebecca Onie is the CEO of Health Leads, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that connects low income patients with food, housing, and other basic resources they need to be healthy. Recently, we talked to her about the inevitable changes that are coming to health care, despite the current chaos. Here’s what she said:

In the wake of yesterday’s decision in the federal district court in Virginia that a key provision of the health care law is unconstitutional, as well as a November’s midterm elections, the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is increasingly uncertain. Just as major pieces of the bill have started to fall into place, debate and division over the legislation’s implications have only intensified.

As CEO of Health Leads, I spend much of my time speaking with physicians, hospital administrators, third-party payers, and health systems CEOs, representing a variety of health care delivery models. In these discussions, one theme emerges time and again: regardless of the ultimate disposition of the health care reform legislation, certain forces have been set in motion that create an unprecedented window to redefine what the U.S. health care system pays for, and thus the scope of care provided.

Paying For Prevention

In particular, two trends create a potentially once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape health care delivery – and to do so in ways that are better aligned with the needs of low-income patients. First, the evolution – whether rapid or incremental – from fee-for-service payments toward accountable care organizations, global payments, or other forms of partial or full capitation makes the failure to pay for prevention increasingly untenable.
Providers ‘Practicing At The Top Of Their License’

Second, consistent with concerns regarding health care spending and workforce shortages, there is a growing expectation that all health care providers will “practice at the top of their license,” i.e., focus on those activities that best leverage their training and experience. Continue reading