CPHS was formed out of a strong belief that decisions about health care must include public input and address the diverse needs of New York City communities.

The Commission on the Public's Health System was founded in 1991 as a challenge to the Barondess Commission, which was appointed by then-Mayor Dinkins to study the public hospital system. While most of the Barondess Commission members were health professionals from the private health sector, CPHS was formed by community groups, advocates, health workers, and unions, many of whom had worked together on earlier campaigns to save the public hospitals. CPHS organized public hearings in four of the five boroughs and forced the Baroness Commission to hold public hearings as well. The outcome of the Barondess report was shaped by these actions, and it explicitly recommended against privatization.

CPHS operated almost entirely through volunteer efforts until 1995, when a three-year grant from the New York Foundation made it possible to hire an experienced organizer, to work with community groups and consumers around the issue of privatization. Since then, a series of foundation grants has enabled CPHS to hire Judy Wessler as Director and undertake numerous community health projects, each involving extensive community involvement and each culminating in a widely-disseminated report. As for the Commission's organizing activities, they have been supported primarily by its annual Fall Appeal and its Spring Gala.

Today, CPHS continues to mobilize around these concerns and other public health related issues. We also provide technical assistance, training and support for community organizations, health care advocates, patients, and anyone who is interested in learning more about public health.

CPHS continues to be a strong coalition of New York residents, community health advocates, health workers, and labor unions. While we have grown in size and influence, we remain committed to making sure that our public health system stays strong, that people have access to health services, and the public's voice on health care issues is heard.

Members of CPHS come from diverse communities, with a wide range of ideas, skills, education, and experiences. Whether you work in the health care system or simply use it, your concerns, your opinions, and your experiences need to be heard.

The CPHS general membership meetings are once a month and usually take place on the first Monday. Visit our Calendar for our upcoming events.

CPHS has become

  • A strong advocate for the public health & hospital system. For more than ten years, CPHS has worked with the HHC Community Boards to provide information and strengthen this advocacy work.
  • A strong voice for public health funding in the state & city budgets;
  • A strong supporter of community organizations organizing in their neighborhoods;
  • A strong advocate for access to health care services regardless of ability to pay, language spoken, race and/or ethnicity, or diagnosis.