First Focus

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization that is committed to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Children's health, education, early childhood, family economics, child welfare, immigration, and child safety are the core issue areas around which First Focus is working to promote bipartisan policy solutions. First Focus’ health work includes ensuring that all children, especially low-income children, have access to affordable, accessible, and reliable coverage. See below for more information about First Focus’ recent activities, accomplishments, and advocacy work and tools!

  • First Focus Issues Statement and Summary on Study Comparing Coverage and Costs of CHIP and QHPs

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    First Focus: First Focus issued a press release and summary of a study conducted by Wakely Consulting group comparing actuarial values of CHIP and qualified health plans (QHPs) in 35 states. The analysis focuses on coverage for children at 160% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and 210% of FPL for CHIP and QHPs, respectively, and includes information on coverage available to children with special needs. The summary notes CHIP enrollees could face up to ten-fold increases in cost sharing if they are transitioned into QHPs.

  • First Focus Lauds Secretary of Health and Human Services Nominee

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    First Focus:  Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, was quoted in the New York Times praising Sylvia Burwell, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, for her comments supporting the extension of CHIP.  Lesley emphasized the value of CHIP in his comments. 
  • First Focus Applies CHIP Lessons to ACA Implementation in New Issue Brief

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    First Focus:  First Focus published an issue brief on CHIP outreach, enrollment, and renewal practices to inform ACA implementation. The brief highlights lessons learned regarding: reaching hard-to-reach populations, streamlining eligibility, and limiting churn. 
  • First Focus Submits Letter Responding to MACPAC’s CHIP Recommendations

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    First Focus: First Focus sent a letter to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) in response to its recommendation to fund CHIP for two years and sunset the program in 2017.  First Focus’ letter raises concerns about establishing a sunset date while issues related to Exchange coverage, eligibility, affordability, adequacy of pediatric benefits and provider networks, and federal and state financing persist.  
  • Save the Date! First Focus To Be Featured at Children’s Budget Summit 2014

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    First Focus:  On June 24, 2014, the Children's Budget Summit 2014 in Washington, D.C. will spotlight the release of First Focus’ Children’s Budget 2014, highlighting more than 200 federal investments in children.  More information will be available soon.
  • First Focus Analyzes Funding for Children’s Health Programs in President’s Budget

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    First Focus: First Focus published an issue brief analyzing the impact of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request on children’s health programs. According to the issue brief, the budget: increases funding for CHIP; makes Express Lane Enrollment permanent; extends CHIP state performance bonuses; and includes funding for children’s mental health programs, among other provisions.

  • KidsWell Grantees Advocate for Continued CHIP Funding

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    KidsWell: First Focus, joined by dozens of national, state and KidsWell organizations, sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders describing the importance of CHIP as a coverage vehicle for low-to-moderate income children and advocating for the program’s reauthorization.  

  • First Focus Issue Brief Compares CHIP and ACA Implementation

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    First Focus: First Focus issued a brief comparing ACA to CHIP implementation.  The analysis identifies lessons learned from CHIP implementation, highlights the importance of navigating state and federal relationships and reviews state implementation challenges. 

  • First Focus and MomsRising Want You to Sign-On and Stand with CHIP

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    First Focus & MomsRising:  Both First Focus and MomsRising released sign-on letters to advocate for continued CHIP funding.  Organizations must sign-on to First Focus’ letter by February 14, 2014; individual sign-on to MomsRising’s letter is available here.  

  • First Focus Releases CHIP-Focused Fact Sheet

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    First Focus:  In honor of CHIPRA’s 5th anniversary, First Focus released a fact sheet to promote CHIP’s critical role in covering children.  The fact sheet highlights CHIP’s: contributions to reducing rates of uninsured children; popularity among the public; affordability among low-income families; comprehensive, pediatric-focused benefits; and strong, pediatric-specific provider networks.      

  • Happy 5th Anniversary, CHIP! First Focus Celebrates with Op-Ed Template

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    First Focus: In honor of CHIP’s 5th anniversary on February 4, 2014, First Focus designed an op-ed template  to help state partners illustrate CHIP’s success and encourage readers to urge their congressional representatives to prioritize and extend CHIP in 2014.  The template is easily customizable.


  • KidsWell Grantees Release Issue Brief on Pediatric Network Adequacy

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    KidsWell PartnersFirst Focus, Georgetown Center for Children and Families (CCF), and the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) joined other national organizations to release an issue brief on ensuring adequate provider networks for children.  The brief, written by Children Now’s Michael Odeh, highlights the need for and development of robust pediatric provider networks.
  • Spread the Word! First Focus Releases Child Advocacy Op-Ed Template

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    First Focus: First Focus designed an op-ed template to help state partners advocate for CHIP and other children’s program funding in 2014.  The template is easily customizable and data points can be replaced with state-specific numbers.

  • KidsWell Grantees Submit Comments on Proposed Dental Benefit

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    KidsWell Partners: The Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, and The Children’s Partnership joined other national advocacy organizations in submitting a letter to CMS in response to the proposed rule addressing the affordability of pediatric dental coverage under the ACA.  The letter supported CMS’ proposal to reduce the cost-sharing limit for stand-alone dental plans (SADPs) for 2015 and beyond, but voiced concern that families who purchase pediatric SADPs may still face affordability barriers.

  • KidsWell Grantees Signed Letter Expressing Support for Year-End Health Extenders Package

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    KW: Four KidsWell grantees—The Children’s Partnership, Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus, and National Council of La Raza—joined other national advocates in signing a letter to the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of including the following programs in any year-end health extenders package: the Qualified Individual program, the Transitional Medical Assistance program, and Express Lane Eligibility.  The letter also called for state incentive payment provisions and quality improvement funding for CHIPRA to be included.
  • First Focus and MomsRising Hold Briefing on How Public Views Investments in Children

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    First Focus & MomsRising: First Focus and MomsRising will hold a Congressional briefing on December 18th sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to review data on the public’s perception of investments in children. At the hearing, two mothers will share personal stories of how their families have benefited from the ACA.   Registration is now available.  

  • First Focus Published Report on Similarities between CHIP and ACA

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    First Focus: First Focus and Eugene Lewit, a Professor at Stanford University, published a report identifying the similarities between the implementation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the ACA roll out. "CHIP’s success demonstrates, it takes time, effort and engagement to make things right, but that builds support for the program and momentum for further progress,” said Lewit. In addition, Bruce Leslie, President of First Focus, published an Op-Ed in Politico about the report.

  • Call to Action! First Focus and CCF Stands Up For Kids on Family Glitch Issue

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    First Focus & CCF: In response to USA Today’s article quoting First Focus President Bruce Lesley and Georgetown Center for Children and Families' (CCF) Executive Director Joan Alker on the “Family Glitch” issue. First Focus issued a call to action asking individuals to support the extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by posting the following message on Twitter: “We can #InvestInKids by extending #CHIP | Family glitch in health law could leave up to 500k children uninsured: http://usat.ly/14A5fcY”.
  • Call To Action! First Focus Works to Stop Budget Measure That Would Cut Funding to CHIP

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    First Focus: First Focus Campaign for Children issued multiple press releases and a call to action regarding a stopgap budget bill (H.J. Res 59), introduced by Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA) that would cut funding from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by 70 percent on October 1st. “CHIP has been bipartisan from the start, and a lot of the representatives who’ve cosponsored this resolution have been solid CHIP supporters. I’ve got to believe this is the mother of all unintended consequences,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.  He also stated, “Unintended or not, the consequences here would be devastating for children and state governments. Before lawmakers cast a vote for this proposal, they should make sure they understand what they’re voting for.”
  • First Focus President Quoted on ACA Defunding Measure

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, was quoted in the HuffPost Politics blog regarding the U.S. House of Representatives proposal to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). "What would end up happening is that states would start to immediately slow down coverage, and then by Christmas or so the whole program would have to shut down," Lesley said. "For some of those kids, the family might figure out a way to get them employer coverage or individual market coverage. But we're talking about low-income families, so many of those kids would lose health care coverage altogether."

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