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 Blogged about Governors who Back Medicaid Support During Disasters and the Transition to Block Grants

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, published a blog post highlighting governors, such as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who are eager and willing to receive federal Medicaid support when disaster strikes their states, but are still willing to support the proposal to transition the Medicaid program into block grants.
  • FirstFocus Issued Communication Materials for Advocates

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    Following its release of the Children’s Budget 2012, First Focus issued a number of communication template materials (i.e., messaging narrative, letter template, and social media posts) for advocates.  

  • The Children's Partnership & National KidsWell Partners Supported CMS Regulations

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    CDF, First Focus, & CA: CDF, First Focus, and The Children's Partnership submitted comments and expressed strong support to CMS on the proposed primary care physicians reimbursement rate regulations.

  • First Focus Released Top Ten Benefits of the ACA

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    First Focus issued a press release, a top ten list of benefits children will receive from the ACA, a letter-to-the-editor template and analysis of the ACA’s critical provisions in celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Most notably the ruling: (1) maintains the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); (2) keeps Medicaid and CHIP coverage strong for children who are currently enrolled; and (3) affirms consumer protections that ensure that children with long-term or serious illnesses can receive coverage.
  • First Focus Hosted Calls to Discuss ACA Ruling

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    On the day of the ruling, First Focus hosted (1) a 10:45am EST organizing call highlighting messaging and communication with national and state groups; (2) an 11 am EST story-banking event in front of the Supreme Court highlighting individuals who have benefited from the ACA; (3) a 12 pm EST press call held by national groups and open to political, health, and court reporters; and (4) within 24 hours of the decision First Focus held a call with its national and state partners.
  • First Focus Released Materials in Response to ACA Ruling

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    First Focus drafted various materials for advocates in response to the Supreme Court's ruling on the ACA. Materials include: (1) draft press statements; (2) letter-to-the-editor templates; (3) key talking points to encourage child-focused messaging; (4) the March 2010 fact sheet highlighting how children will benefit from the ACA; and (5) the Kid’s Policy Express blog that is available to advocates and individuals who wish to post materials and posts related to the ACA.   
  • First Focus Released Fact Sheet Highlighting How Proposed House FY2013 Budget Affects Children

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    First Focus released a fact sheet detailing how the House Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution will affect the nation's children. According to the fact sheet, proposed budget cuts include (1) a $162 billion cut to Medicaid; (2) a $61.3 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and (3) a $28.9 billion cut to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  First Focus will hold its Children’s Budget Summit on June 27, 2012 at 9:00am ET at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The Summit will highlight how children were affected in the federal fiscal year 2012 budget and appropriations and what can Congress and the Administration do to protect children during hard economic times. Registration is requested and is available here.
  • First Focus Submitted Letter Challenging Budget Cuts to Children's Health Care

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    First Focus President Bruce Lesley submitted a letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel challenging Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts to children’s health, child care programs, SNAP, and child tax credits. Lesley points out that investments in children pay off everyday and he encourages action to stop politicians from “pointing fingers” instead of focusing on protecting programs for Wisconsin children and families.
  • First Focus Issued Press Release Highlighting IRS Announcement on Future ACA Rulemaking

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    First Focus issued a press release highlighting the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) announcement that future Affordable Care Act (ACA) rulemaking will address concerns raised by children and family advocates regarding the affordability of employer-sponsored coverage for children and spouses. The First Focus Campaign for Children was among the advocates who submitted a comments letter to the IRS signed by over 100 national and state advocates in response to its proposed rule on affordability. The proposed provision would determine whether an employer-sponsored health plan is affordable for an entire family based on the costs of coverage for the individual employee only, disregarding any additional costs of family coverage.
  • First Focus Submitted Comments to HSS on Provisions of Exchange and Medicaid Rules

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    First Focus submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) on the Interim Final Provisions of the Exchange and Medicaid rules released on March 23 and March 27, 2012. The comments include recommendations on: (1) streamlining and eliminating duplicative eligibility determinations; (2) requiring timely eligibility determinations; (3) improving transparency; (4) extending performance standards; and (5) promoting the use of presumptive eligibility.    
  • National KidsWell Partners Hosted Meeting on Medicaid Mental Health Services for Children

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    First Focus, Georgetown Center for Children and Families, and other organizations, hosted the third meeting in a four-part series, focusing on how federal policy affects Medicaid and children’s health. This session focused on improving Medicaid mental health services for children, including programs that reduce the over-prescription of anti-psychotics and improve continuity of care for children in foster care systems. The session was moderated by Brooke Lehmann, MSW, Esq. of Child Works, LLC and featured four panelists:

    • Jane Meschan Foy, MD FAAP, Chair, Task Force on Mental Health,  American Academy of Pediatrics
    • Robert Hilt, MD, Child Psychiatrist , Director of Partnership Access Line Consult Services, Seattle Children’s Hospital
    • Beth Morrow, Director, Health IT Initiatives, The Children’s Partnership
    • Steve Tuck, CEO, Children’s Home Society of West Virginia

     Materials from earlier sessions are available online and the fourth and final session, Reducing the Red Tape, will be held on June 27th.

  • First Focus Commented on Suspension of Eligible Children from Medicaid

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    The Patriot News published Bruce Lesley’s letter-to-the-editor commenting on the paper’s questioning of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s suspension of eligible children from Medicaid. Lesley, President of First Focus, states that not only is the policy “senseless” and "heartless,"  but if advanced the plan could affect tax dollars by: (1) requiring reprocessing of enrollment paperwork; and (2) hindering access to preventive care services, resulting in unnecessary emergency room visits and high hospital bills, which may subsequently lead to higher commercial insurance premiums for small businesses and families.
  • First Focus Encouraged Individuals to Contact Congress about MOE

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    First Focus requests that individuals contact members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to provide information on the benefits of the MOE provision, so that they have both sides of the story. First Focus provides its 2011 State Flexibility Act fact sheet as a reference for talking points.
  • First Focus Highlighted 2013 Budget and Proposed Budget Cuts

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    First Focus issued an update on the Federal fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget that highlighted the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s planned sessions to discuss the recently proposed budget cuts. According to a Committee memo, the new cuts include a number of health related provisions under the ACA including: (1) repealing the prevention and public health fund; (2) repealing the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary’s authority to issue unlimited state Exchange funds that would help facilitate the purchase of Qualified Health Plans (QHP); (3) defunding the CO-OP program which provides government-subsidized loans to non-profit health insurance plans; (4) rebasing the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) allotments; (5) repealing the Medicaid Maintenance of Effort (MOE) state requirement; (6) repealing the increased Federal Medicaid funding cap and match rate for territories; (7) adjusting the proposed provider tax threshold that helps states finance Medicaid expenditures from 3.5% to 5.5%; and (8) reforming the Medical Liability system.    
  • First Focus Released Customizable Materials to Support the ACA

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     First Focus released a number of customizable materials for organizations and states to use to support and defend the ACA; held a series of social media posts on Facebook and Twitter titled “Top 10 ACA Wins for Kids”; co-hosted a Twitter chat in collaboration with MomsRising, using the hash tag #InvestInKids featuring Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and Dr. George Askew, Senior Health Policy Advisor at the Administration for Children and Families at HHS; submitted op-eds to various newspapers; and published a research brief with the Urban Institute and fact sheet highlighting the increased federal investments in children's health and coverage resulting from the ACA.
  • First Focus Assisted with Events for ACA Second Anniversary Week

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    In preparation for the ACA’s anniversary, First Focus and Know Your Care assisted a number of groups in organizing events by offering to help draft editorials and letters to the editor (LTEs), assist with media events and arrange for a U.S. Health and Human Services’ (HHS) surrogate to present at events.

  • First Focus Released Fact Sheets Analyzing House Budget Resolution Proposal

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    First Focus released two fact sheet analyses (here and here) on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s FY 2013 House Budget Resolution proposal and  its effect  on the nation’s children. The fact sheets highlight key children’s initiatives addressed in the budget, which includes proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.  The fact sheets note that if the Ryan budget proposal is approved, the cuts will result in millions of children loosing coverage in states.
  • First Focus Released Fact Sheets Analyzing President Obama's FY2013 Budget Proposal

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    First Focus released a series of fact sheets providing detailed analysis of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. According to the analysis the children’s share of the federal discretionary budget increased by more than 10% compared to FY 2009. In addition, the Children’s Health specific fact sheet highlights the following: (1) concerns related to the proposed “blended” federal matching rates for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP); (2) a 26% increase to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  (CMS)  to continue administration of public coverage programs and help fund the development of state-based Health Insurance Exchanges;  and (3) cuts to the CHIP Outreach and Enrollment Grants.  As the budget moves forward, First Focus will continue to urge Congress to maintain its support for children's programs.  
  • First Focus Released an Ad Thanking Members of Congress for Supporting Health Care Reform

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    First Focus released a Champions for Children ad identifying and thanking those Members of Congress that “have made extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation.”
  • First Focus President Issued Op-Ed Highlighting CHIPRA Success

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    First Focus President Bruce Lesley penned an Op-Ed in the West Virginia Gazette on the successes of the 2009 Children Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA).  The article notes that while 25,000 West Virginia children now live with at least one unemployed parent, the number of uninsured children in West Virginia has actually gone down as a result of CHIPRA.

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