By Ann Bacharach, Pennsylvania Health Law Project
I went to Providence last week, just ahead of an historic
weekend. No, I’m not talking about Rounds One and Two of the NCAA Men’s
Basketball Tournament or the upset of Georgetown by Ohio. No, I was there to
attend the second of CCF’s regional meetings: Transforming Health Care Coverage
for Children and Families: A Convening of Northeastern States.
Many thanks to CCF and the New England Alliance for
Children’s Health for this gathering of experts; the meeting provided an
extraordinary boost to my knowledge, my strategies and my morale. It’s always
helpful to have dedicated time to one topic and to have colleagues from
Pennsylvania share the experience.
My longtime colleague and friend from the PA Chapter of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, Suzanne Yunghans, came away from the meeting ready to
incorporate new ideas into her chapter’s work.
Aha! moments included:
- The cost of one ER visit is enough to cover 3 kids for
a year and taking out ads thanking
elected officials for”… ensuring the health of generations to come” were two
great ideas from the messaging strategies session
- More clarification as to what “counts” as implementing
the 5 of 8 CHIPRA simplification options (can require a signature for
administrative renewal, 1906 HIPP can be converted to 1906A as Medicaid premium
payment) from Vikki Wachino’s presentation.
- Start administrative renewal with children in
households with a low likelihood of income changes from Tricia’s presentation.
- Use the shorter 3-1-1 instead of an 800 number in
outreach from Vinnie DeMarco’s re-cap of Maryland’s efforts.
- RIteSmiles is using a dental benefits manager to
improve dental access from Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
Those in attendance bolstered each other’s work. I heard
about new resources to reinforce the argument that retention is a critical
element in expanding coverage: CCF’s 5 Reasons Not to Add Red Tape to Your
Child and Family Health Programs, Gerry Fairbrother’s report on post-gap-in-coverage hospitalizations, California studies on
gaps in coverage, research on the administrative costs to states and on 21st
And I came back with a list of to-do’s: re-energize the
Covering Kids and Families Coalition in Pennsylvania by holding a Children’s
Health Care Summit (find some funding for that), finish my paper on the five
reasons retention is important to Pennsylvania’s CHIP and Medicaid capitation
rates, add CHIPRA outreach and enrollment to the Pennsylvania’s Health Access
Network’s conference in April.
There was cautious optimism that we would see health care
reform pass in the House by the end of the weekend. There was significant despair
over the dire state budgets facing all of us as advocates and as taxpayers. But
quite clearly there is work we can do now: reach the families of children who
are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but not enrolled.
In his remarks to House Democrats on Sunday, President
Obama said, “Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to
vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country,
where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made …We are
not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”
So if you get a chance to attend one of CCF’s remaining convenings, don’t pass it up. Let whatever light we have shine.