Advocates for Children and Youth

Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) was founded in 1987 by a group of prominent child advocates in Maryland who saw the need for an independent organization to advocate for the needs of the state's children and families in the community, the media and the public policy arena. Since its founding, ACY’s mission has been to identify problems, promote policies and programs that improve results for Maryland children in measurable and meaningful ways, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies for the state's children and youth. Its goals include ensuring that children have access to affordable, quality health care coverage in Maryland. See below for more information about ACY’s recent activities, accomplishments, and advocacy work and tools!


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  • ACY Advocates for Protecting Pediatric Dental Benefits

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    MD: Advocates for Children and Youth submitted a letter of information to the Maryland Senate Finance Committee advocating for robust pediatric dental benefits in the Qualified Health Plans offered through the Exchange. The letter identified critical consumer protections applicable to pediatric dental benefits including: the prohibition against exclusions for pre-existing conditions, rescission, and provision of guaranteed rates; the right to appeal; no cost-sharing for routine and preventive care; and availability of linguistically accessible “Summary of Dental Plan Benefits.” 

  • ACY Responds to Exchange Open Enrollment Kick-Off!!

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    MD: Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) posted an interactive presentation depicting a series of scenarios that provide insight on what new health care options are available and to whom. ACY also published a detailed guide that provides more detail on each scenario.
  • ACY Expresses Concern about HHS's Proposal for Pediatric Dental Coverage to be Optional in Plans Offered in the Exchange

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    MD: Leigh Cobbs, Health Policy Director of Advocates for Children and Youth, was quoted in the Baltimore Sun expressing concern about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposal that would allow pediatric dental coverage to be offered as an optional service in plans offered through the Exchange. The article notes that, if HHS finalizes this proposal, pediatric dental coverage could be very costly and deter families from purchasing dental plans. 
  • Want to Know What’s Going on in Maryland? ACY Released an Update on the State's Legislative Activity on Exchange Development

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    MD: Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) published a webpage providing updates on their 2013 legislative activity, including supporting the Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 (SB 274/HB 208) which would expand the Medicaid program and continue to implement the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. In addition, ACY submitted proposed amendments to SB 274/HB 208 to strengthen the bill on former foster care children, continuity of care for serious pediatric dental conditions, twelve-month continuous enrollment, and developing a standing committee for on-going stakeholder participation.  
  • ACY to Maryland Exchange: Say Yes to Consumer Protections!

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    MD: Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) submitted comments to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) on producer appointments and their proposal to use application counselors as “in-house” brokers through the carriers. ACY argues that the two issues are linked and are concerned with the involvement of the carriers in the selection of a qualified health plan.
  • Temper the Transition! ACY Published Legislative Priorities to Ensure Continuity of Care for Children and Families who Transition Between the Exchange and State Coverage Options

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    MD: Advocates for Children and Youth published their 2013 Health Legislative Priorities list which includes information on proposed work and its potential impact in the state. Included in the list is ACY’s plan to work to ensure that the State-Based Exchange is adequately funded and to develop legislation/regulations on continuity of care policies for children and families who transition between the Exchange and state coverage options.
  • ACY Released an Informational Guide for Advocates on the State-Based Exchange

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    Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) released an advocates’ guide on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The guide provides background on components of the state-based Exchange including: (1) background on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012; (2) Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) that will facilitate the sale of health insurance through the Exchange; (3) dental and vision plans; (4) market rules for insurers; (5) the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP); (6) the Individual Exchange market; (7) Navigator Programs that will support outreach and consumer assistance; (8) risk adjustment and reinsurance programs; (9) the fraud, waste and abuse detection and prevention program; and (10) Exchange financing. The guide briefly discusses the future of health care reform in Maryland, stating that Marylanders should be proud of the state's progress and accomplishments to date.
  • Advocates for Children and Youth Applauded SCOTUS ACA Ruling

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    Advocates for Children and Youth issued a press release applauding the decision and outlining the key benefits children and families have and will receive through the ACA. The press release highlights that the decision will help facilitate the continued improvement of Maryland’s healthcare system, especially in regards to their continued efforts to develop a state-based Exchange. 
  • ACY Released Legislative Updates on Exchange Bills

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    Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) released a Health 2012 Legislative Wrap Up and press release highlighting passed bills focusing on the Exchange, dental benefits and other health related efforts. Key highlights include: (1) HB443: The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012 defines and operationalizes functions of the state's Exchange, which includes the foundation for the Navigator program; (2) SB234: Establishes Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) that will target state resources to reduce health disparities, improve outcomes, and reduce costs and readmissions; (3) HB1401/SB867: Establishes educational efforts to improve oral health in schools; and (4) a number of other bills focusing on home visitation, young adult consent to certain medical procedures, prohibition of certain animal feed, and a tax increase on cigars and smokeless tobacco. In addition, ACY worked towards reducing the proposed budget cuts to orthodontia care through the state’s Medicaid program and Maryland launched an oral health messaging campaign targeting children from birth to six years old.
  • ACY Published Update on Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012

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    Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) published a health 2012 update regarding the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012, which is currently under review with the state legislature. The bill is the outgrowth of 2011 Exchange legislation requiring studies to inform best practices on how the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange should function. ACY was heavily involved in the development of the new legislation, working closely with policy makers and co-chairing one of many advisory committees whose work was incorporated into the Exchange Board's Recommendations and into the legislation. ACY was also involved in specific provisions relating to the navigator program.
  • ACY Released Materials Advocating for Children's Dental Benefits Within the Exchange

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    Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) released various materials to help with advocacy focusing on dental benefits within the Exchange, update on access to dental care for children in Maryland, and costs of accessing dental care in the Emergency Room. These materials identify the need to provide comprehensive oral health care to children and adults in the Exchange. In addition, ACY published an Issue Brief - "Five Years Later: Dental Access for Children" – that looks at progress against the Dental Action Committee's (DAC) recommendations over five years and finds that while significant progress has been made, challenges still remain to improve oral health access.
  • ACY Proposed Amendments to the 2012 Maryland Benefit Exchange Act

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    Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) and Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform worked with an alliance of partners to submit comments and proposed amendments to the 2012 Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act (MHBEA) of 2012 (SB238/HB443). The amendments focus on strengthening the Navigator program and the Navigator and Enrollment Advisory Committee, enhancing the roles of stakeholders and developing two stakeholder advisory groups specific to the Navigator Program and Essential Health Benefit Plan.
  • ACY Submitted Comments on HHS' 2011 Essential Health Benefit Bulletin

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    Comments from Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) stressed the importance of: (1) defining a core or “floor” EHB standard for children; (2) providing further guidance and protections for pediatric dental coverage; (3) evaluating additional options for pediatric vision coverage; (4) defining medical necessity; (5) limiting insurer flexibility; and (6) assuring a transparent process for benchmark selection and updating benefits. In addition, ACY developed four guiding principles to establish an EHB. The EHB package must: (1) reflect and support the state’s commitment to a “culture of care” that actively promotes continuity of care and health equity and prohibits discrimination; (2) provide comprehensive benefits that are identified with maximum specificity and are balanced with and among the ten mandated ACA benefit categories; (3) be developed based upon an open and transparent process that is supported by public health and other appropriate expertise, and stakeholder and consumer engagement; and (4) enhance the potential for success of Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange. ACY is actively getting diverse groups to sign on to the Principles and will be sharing with legislators as well as using during the "Stakeholder Consensus Amendment" process for this year's Exchange Bill.

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