Amid an increased federal emphasis on health care policy during the early 1990s, many state governments launched initiatives aimed at identifying better ways to promote access to health care. Then-Gov. Zell Miller formed the Governor’s Commission on Health Care to advise on health care reform in the state.

In 1995, the work of the commission transitioned to the newly established Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC). GHPC, then housed in the College of Health and Human Services at Georgia State University, served as the research arm of the Georgia Coalition for Health, which represented consumers, providers, businesses, and government. Former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources Jim Ledbetter served as GHPC’s first director.

In 1998, the Georgia Coalition for Health faded out of the spotlight, but GHPC remained active and found a home in the newly formed Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. The center remains active in health system transformation. GHPC’s initial areas of work — long-term care, rural health systems, and child health and well-being — developed out of the early Medicaid reform work with the state. From those initial areas, GHPC’s portfolio grew to also include projects in the areas of behavioral health, community health systems development, financing health, health in all policies, and population health.

Relying on a three-pronged approach of evaluating, translating, and implementing research, policy, and programs, GHPC draws on its cumulative learning from working with public and private organizations at the national, state, and local levels to continue to positively impact health at the community level.

Organizational Milestones: 1995-2015. 1995: Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) is founded as the research arm of the Georgia Coalition for Health, comprised of representatives of consumers, providers, business, and government. 1996: GHPC studies Medicaid reform at the request of Governor Zell Miller and delivers the study Directions for Change to the Georgia General Assembly. Evaluation work in the areas of long-term care, rural health, and child health is launched. 1998: GHPC moves from the College of Health and Hman Sciences to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at GSU. 1999: GHPC informs the design of Georgia's first SCHIP, PeachCare for Kids, and continues the annual evaluation and outreach efforts. 2000: GHPC begins serving as the administrative arm for several affiliate organizations: The Philanthropic Collaborative for a Healthy Georgia, Georgia Health Decisions (2005), and administrative home to Communities Joined in Action (2009). 2001: Dr. Karen Minyard becomes director of the GHPC. 2002: GHPC applies first-hand experience from Georgia to help rural communities nationally develop viable health systems. Since first partnering with HRSA in 2002, the Community Systems Development team has provided technical assistance to more than 800 communities. 2004: GHPC conducts an assessment of Georgia's public health system to define public health's "core business" leading to continued work with state public health on strategic and sustainability planning around areas such as rural health, asthma, cancer, physical activity and nutrition, and tobacco control. 2006: GHPC convenes more than 800 Georgians at the Summit for a Healthy Georgia to identify health priorities for the state, launching our signature style of meeting facilitation and design. 2008: GHPC begins the Legislative Health Policy Certificate Program for Georgia Senators, Representatives, and staff, applying systems thinking approach to state health policymaking. 2010: The affordable Care Act passes. GHPC continues earlier interdisciplinary work in health care reform with a series of policy briefs, work with state agencies, and toolkits, culminating in the commemoration of our 15th anniversary with Health Reform: From Insights to Strategies, A Variety of Perspectives. 2010: GHPC initiated ongoing state surveillance and health promotion efforts for sickle cell disease and thalassemia with the goal of improving outcomes for people with hemoglobin disorders by better informing policy, outreach, and practice. 2011: GHPC named a national Health Impact Assessment (HIA) training center. 2012: GHPC partners with the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Unived Way to develop Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI). 2012: The Center of Excellence for Children's Behavioral Health (COE) is established in partnership with the GA Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. 2014: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation names GHPC a national coordinating center for Bridging for Health: Improving Community Health Through Innovations in Financing. 2015: The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) selected GHPC as one of four regional Pipeline Award Program offices to provide support and technical assistance for southern state awrdees of the Pipeline to Proposal program.