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!

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  • KidsWell Partners Respond to MACPAC Request on Future of Children’s Health Coverage

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    CCF, CDF, First Focus, NHeLP, CA: 49 groups, including KidsWell Partners Children’s Defense Fund, The Children’s Partnership, First Focus, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, and the National Health Law Program, responded to a MACPAC request about how to improve Marketplace coverage for children. The letter advocates for the Commission to recognize the foundational role of Medicaid and CHIP and discusses: affordability of coverage; adequacy of covered benefits; network adequacy; and transitions between Medicaid, CHIP, Marketplaces, and employer sponsored insurance.

  • 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     

  • First Focus Drafted Comments to HHS in Response to Interim Final Rule and Encouraged Agency to Withdraw Amendment Prohibiting DACA Eligible Youth from Coverage in PCIP as Well as Through Exchanges

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    First Focus: First focus also drafted comments to HHS in response to the interim final rule and encouraged the agency to withdraw the amendment that prohibits DACA eligible youth from accessing coverage in the PCIP, as well as through Exchanges.
  • KidsWell National Partners Submitted Comments to President Barack Obama on the Proposed Tax Credit Rules

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    First Focus: First Focus, along with 74 national and state advocacy organizations, submitted comments to President Barack Obama in response to the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit Proposed Rule issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in May 2012 focusing on a provision that would base cost assessments for coverage on insuring only the employee, rather than estimating costs for family coverage. In addition, Bruce Lesley, Present of First Focus, was quoted in a New York Time’s article stating concerns regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) proposed rule on affordability 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.    
  • 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 Developed Messaging Document to Assist with Advocacy Efforts

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    First Focus developed a proactive messaging document for state advocates to leverage as they discuss both the work they have done and the benefits of the ACA for children. Among several talking points, the resource speaks to “wins under health reform” for children and the benefits of Health Insurance Exchanges as ways to ensure more children gain coverage.
  • First Focus Developed Draft Essential Health Benefit Comments

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    First Focus developed draft EHB comments for advocates to leverage as they craft their response to HHS’ December 2011 bulletin. The comments articulate the following specific recommendations: (1) use Medicaid as the standard for benchmark plans to meet children’s needs; (2) pediatric services must be explicitly defined to reflect the full range of children’s needs and the benchmarks for oral and vision services must be strengthened; (3) develop a standardized definition of pediatric medical necessity to ensure children can access Essential Health Benefits meaningfully and consistently; (4) prohibit insurers from substituting or altering Essential Health Benefits that are offered; (5) establish clear public participation standards for EHB decisions to guarantee diverse consumer involvement; and (6) broadly include state benefit mandates.

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