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 Responds to Exchange Open Enrollment Kick-Off!!

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    First Focus: First Focus published an article celebrating the “open enrollment season” in which they highlight the various outreach efforts and publicity around the new Marketplace options.
  • National KidsWell Partners and U.S. News & World Report Hosted Live Twitter Chat!

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    First Focus & CCF: First Focus, the Urban Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, and U.S. News & World Report hosted a live Twitter chat to discuss the benefits children and their families will receive under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Topics discussed included how the ACA will: benefit children; impact children with disabilities; impact the cost of care; and help families shop and select a health plan to fit their needs.
  • First Focus Announces Children's Budget Summit

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    First Focus: First Focus announced that the Children’s Budget Summit, sponsored by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Patti Murray, will be held on July 24th. The meeting will feature the release of the Children’s Budget 2013 report, which provides information on 180 investments in the nation’s children.
  • First Focus Testifies to Senate Budget Committee on Children and Announces Children's Budget Summit

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    First Focus: Bruce Leslie, President of First Focus, testified before the Senate Budget Committee on how the federal budget will impact children. Leslie referenced First Focus and Save the Children’s comprehensive analysis of the country’s support of children for which the U.S. received a C- grade in several areas. He also stated that the soon to be released Children’s Budget 2013 report indicates that children currently receive less than 8% of the federal budget. Leslie presented a comparative analysis of how children would be affected in the proposed 2014 Senate and House budgets and highlighted the dramatic state budgets impacting children’s programs. He called on the Senate to make children a priority in the federal budget and policy decisions.
  • First Focus Published a Summary on How Amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act will Affect Children

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    First Focus: First Focus published a summary on the proposed amendments affecting children in Senate Bill 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Good amendments include a provision that allows individuals to receive access to safety net programs once they have satisfied the five year Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) or blue card status requirements. Bad amendments include new waive restrictions on federal means-tested benefits, five year bar for ACA subsidies, new federal means-tested benefit reporting that could limit access for immigrants with mixed-legal status, and restrictions for refuges, asylees, individuals with RPI status, and other non-citizens from receiving public benefits, including CHIP.

     

    First Focus also issued a call to action requesting individuals to sign a letter to Senators urging them to stand up for children as they review the amendments and debate immigration reforum.

  • NAM Published Article on Texas Advocates' Struggles on Urging the Legislature to Expand Medicaid

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    NAM: New America Media published an article discussing challenges facing Texas health care advocates as they work to expand Medicaid, the most significant of which are the Governor and legislature’s opposition. The article notes that because the Texas legislature meets on a bi-yearly schedule (every other year), the discussion on Medicaid expansion will not begin again until 2015. Bruce Lesley of First Focus and Anne Dunkelberg and Eva DeLuna Castro of the Center for Public Policy and Priorities were quoted in the article highlighting the need to continue to work to educate individuals on the benefits of expansion to build support. Ms. Dunkelburg was quoted saying, “I think it’s going to take continued pressure from the vast majority of Texans who favor Medicaid expansion – a higher level of engagement.” 

     

  • First Focus Published a Summary of Amendments to the Immigration Reform Bill that Affect Children and Families

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    First Focus: First Focus published a summary of how proposed amendments to the U.S. Senate’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (SB744) may positively and negatively affect children and families. Positive amendments include removing the five-year waiting period for CHIP, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for children, pregnant women, and lawfully present individuals. Negative amendments include a new five-year waiting period for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the ACA.
  • Call to Action! First Focus Urged Support for Little Dreamers Amendment

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    First Focus: First Focus issued a call to action requesting individuals to support Senator Blumenthal’s (D-CT) Little Dreamers Amendment. Senator Blumenthal filed the amendment to the current version of the DREAM Act in the Senate proposal. The Senate version of the DREAM Act currently creates a discrepancy in the treatment of children who entered the U.S. but are too young to qualify for the Act’s 5-year path to citizenship. Senator Blumenthal’s amendment would solve this discrepancy by “allowing children who meet requirements of the DREAM Act and are under the age of 18 upon completing five years of registered provisional status to be eligible to adjust to lawfully permanent resident status and be immediately eligible for citizenship.”
  • First Focus Released Analysis of U.S. Senate's Immigration Reform Proposal

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    First Focus: First Focus released an analysis of the U.S. Senate’s immigration reform proposal, highlighting how the bill will impact children and families. First Focus notes that, due to the various waiting requirements in the proposal, young children may have to wait up to 15 years to qualify for safety net programs including: non-emergency Medicaid, CHIP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Budget Woes? First Focus Released Comparison of Federal Proposed Budgets

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    First Focus: First Focus released a resource providing a side-by-side comparison of the House, Senate and White House’s proposed federal budgets across four categories that affect children – health, family tax credits, nutrition, and federal budget sequestration, and non-defense discretionary investments (e.g., education).  According to the resource, the House proposal would cause the most damage to children. However, First Focus noted that the Senate budget, which was released first and specifically recognizes the importance of children, will help with negotiations as Congress works to finalize the budget. 
  • Can Exchanges Work for Kids? First Focus, CCF and CDF Explain it All!

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    First Focus, CCF, and CDF: First Focus, The Georgetown Center for Children and Families and The Children’s Defense Fund released a resource to help advocates educate state officials on how Exchanges can benefit children. The resource reviews seven key components that should be considered for State-based Exchanges, State-partnership Exchanges, and the Federally-facilitated Exchange. The key components reviewed included effective consumer assistance, comprehensive child-specific Essential Health Benefits, transparent Exchange planning and operations, and seamless coverage and care through strong coordination with Medicaid and CHIP.
  • First Focus Says, "Protect Kids' Health Programs by Embracing its Success"

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, published an article in the Huffington Post reminding advocates that it is important to embrace and publicize their success stories around Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a resource to help educate national policy makers on the importance of these programs for children. He notes that because many advocates continue to be focused on enhancing children’s access to care, they “sometimes forget to circle back and celebrate wins and reinforce successes.” 

     

  • First Focus Publishes Opinion Piece in the NYT Urging National Policy Officials to Learn from the UK on Child Poverty

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, published a letter to the editor in The New York Times asking policy makers to look to the United Kingdom for examples of policies that enhance investment in children’s programs and services.
  • Webinar Alert! First Focus Holds Congressional Briefing on Kids and the Federal Budget

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    First Focus: First Focus held a congressional briefing on March 21st focusing on various budget cuts that could jeopardize investment in children’s programs. The briefing was hosted by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and featured Jim Burton, Partner with Public Option Strategies, Eugene Steuerle, Senior Fellow with the Urban Institute, and Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. In addition, First Focus published a side-by-side comparison of the Senate & House Budgets and how they may affect children.

     

     

  • First Focus Says, "Protect Children from Sequestration!"

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    First Focus: First Focus issued a call to action requesting individuals to submit stories of how the sequestration will affect children they know; and submit letters to congress telling their representatives that “cutting kids is unacceptable” and request that children be protected.
  • First Focus Takes a Closer Look at Federal Proposal to Reduce Medicaid Expenditures

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    First Focus: First Focus published an analysis on the “per capita cap” on federal Medicaid expenditures to reduce spending and enhance budget savings. The analysis provides information as to how this proposal would underfund states and force cuts to benefits and services for beneficiaries, including low-income children. The analysis was also highlighted in a CQ HealthBeat Article (available by subscription only).
  • Budget Chatter! First Focus & MomsRising Release Twitter Storm on Sequestration Cuts

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    First Focus & Moms Rising: First Focus and MomsRising, in collaboration with the Herndon Alliance, hosted a Twitter Storm and Tweet Chat on February 26th to highlight the importance of the ACA’s Prevention Fund and issued a call to action to protect the fund from the March 1st sequestration cuts. Another Twitter Storm and Tweet Chat were held on March 6th
  • Advocates Say No to Waiting Periods! First Focus, CCF and California Grantees Sent Comments to HHS on CHIP Waiting Periods in the Proposed Rule

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    First Focus, CCF & CA: First Focus, CCF, and The Children’s Partnership, in collaboration with various other organizations, submitted comments to HHS on the CHIP waiting period provision included in the Medicaid and CHIP proposed rule.

     

  • How will CMS's Rules Impact Foster Kids? First Focus and CDF Submitted Comments to CMS About Medicaid Coverage for Foster Kids

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    First Focus: First Focus issued draft comments on the proposed regulations for the new former foster children mandatory category. 
  • Hey, Techy Advocates! Check Out First Focus and Children's Partnership’s Brief on Using Information Technology to Identify and Track Young Adults in Foster Care

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    First Focus and CA: First Focus, in collaboration with their State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) partners, and the Children’s Partnership published a brief on investing in IT systems that enable electronic information exchanges for helping to identify and track young adults in foster care. In addition, a webinar was held on January 31st to provide an overview and to discuss the brief. 

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