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 Publishes Analysis of Federal Budget Resolutions

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    First Focus: First Focus published a fact sheet analyzing the budget resolutions released by the House and Senate Budget Committees, focusing on programs that impact children. The House Budget would merge CHIP into Medicaid and repeal Medicaid expansion, which could leave as many as 14 million people without coverage. The Senate Budget offers fewer details but proposes to cut Medicaid by $400 billion.

  • First Focus Authors CHIP Blog Post for Huffington Post

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, blogged for the Huffington Post urging Congress to focus on children’s issues, including the reauthorization of CHIP. The post explains recent funding proposals and challenges to extend funding for the program. The post calls for a clean extension of CHIP to avoid increasing waiting periods and cost sharing for families, both of which could result in millions of children losing health coverage.

  • First Focus Paper Highlights Importance of Pediatric Home Visits

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    First Focus: First Focus published a paper on innovative health care strategies for children and families. The paper highlights an effort in South Carolina to improve efficiency and outcomes for children by integrating pediatric primary health care with voluntary home visits for families with newborns. Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, stated, “…for more than 16 years, putting home visiting and health care together has yielded more efficient care and better health for kids.”

  • First Focus Spearheads Call for Congressional Action on CHIP

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    First Focus: First Focus led over 1500 organizations, including all of the KidsWell national and state partners, in calling on Congress to act as soon as possible to provide a four-year CHIP funding extension. The letter emphasizes the need for swift action to ensure that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption. 

  • First Focus Gathers Valentines in Support of CHIP

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    First Focus: First Focus and United Way asked children, families, and community members to send a Valentine to their federal representatives in support of reauthorizing CHIP. Individuals were asked to sign an online petition, send a card, or post a message on social media.

  • KidsWell Partners Host CHIP Call

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    First Focus, MomsRising, YI: KidsWell Partners First Focus, MomsRising, and Young Invincibles invited members to join a call to discuss the future of CHIP. The call was led by policy and advocacy experts and explored the program’s background, what is at stake if the program is not extended, and how individuals can take action to advocate for the program’s extension.

  • First Focus Publishes Brief on Potential Impact of CHIP Funding Lapse

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    First Focus: First Focus published a brief examining the potential impact of CHIP funding set to expire on September 30, 2015. The brief found that if Congress delays action to reauthorize the program, over a million children will lose health insurance coverage and costs would jump from an average of $90 for a CHIP plan to $446 under ACA plans. 

  • First Focus Publishes Paper on Recession’s Effect on Children

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    First Focus: First Focus and the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia released a new paper analyzing the effects of the Great Recession on child well-being. The paper, which updates research conducted in 2010, examines child well-being across four areas: health, hunger, housing, and abuse and neglect. The paper found that states expanded CHIP eligibility during the great recession and reduced the amount of uninsured children to 7%, the lowest in decades. However, the paper notes there are still major challenges ahead, including gaps in coverage and the reauthorization of CHIP.

  • KidsWell Partners File Amicus Brief Supporting Private Enforcement of the Medicaid Act

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    First Focus, NHeLP: KidsWell partners, First Focus and The National Health Law Program, along with 16 other organizations, filed an amicus brief in the Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center case arguing that private enforcement of the Medicaid Act is necessary when state violations harm program beneficiaries. The brief argues that a decision against private enforcement would remove one of the main ways low-income individuals can legally challenge states’ harmful decisions.

  • First Focus Releases Fact Sheet on 2015 Omnibus

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    First Focus: First Focus published a fact sheet on the impact the recently passed Congressional spending package will have on children. The fact sheet notes that many children’s programs received only level funding continuations and calls out the Omnibus as a missed opportunity for Congress to extend CHIP funding.

  • 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.

  • CCF to Host State Partner Call on Midterm Election Impact on 2015 Policy Agenda

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    CCF, First Focus: The Georgetown Center on Children and Families (CCF) will discuss the impact of the midterm elections on the 2015 policy agenda on a State Partner call November 18th. Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, and Edwin Park, vice president of health policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will join CCF’s executive director Joan Alker on the call.

  • KidsWell Partners Circulate Letter Urging Congress to Extend MIECHV Program Funding

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    CDF, First Focus, NY: KidsWell Partners, Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus, and Health Care for All New York, signed on to a letter urging Congress to extend funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program before the end of this legislative session or as one of the first acts of the next legislative session. MIECHV funding is set to expire in March 2015. Organizations are encouraged to add their name to the letter by November 7th.

     

  • KidsWell Partners Publish Q&A About CHIP Renewal

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    First Focus, NAM: New American Media published a Q&A with Ed Walz, vice president of First Focus, about the future of CHIP and the likelihood of Congress acting to renew funding for the program. The Q&A provides background on the program, how it differs from ACA-provided coverage, and the consequences of failing to renew the program.

  • First Focus and 1,200 Others Urge Congress to Renew CHIP

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    First Focus: After collecting 1,200 signatures from organizations across the nation, including many KidsWell partners, First Focus sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass a four-year CHIP funding extension before the end of the current legislative session. 

  • First Focus Pens Opinions on CHIP

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    First Focus: Bruce Lesley, president for First Focus, wrote opinion columns featured in The Dallas Morning News, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the important role CHIP plays in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and nationwide. The columns emphasize the efficacy, bipartisan nature, and public-private partnership structure of the program, and call on Congress to extend funding before the end of the legislative session.

  • KidsWell Partners Featured in New York Times and Circulate CHIP Sign-on Letter

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    CDF, First Focus, NHeLP: KidsWell partners First Focus and Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) signed onto a letter to the editor featured in The New York Times supporting the extension of CHIP funding. In addition, First Focus, CDF, and the National Health Law Program, along with 10 other national organizations, are circulating a sign-on letter encouraging leadership in Congress to extend CHIP funding. Organizations are encouraged to add their names to the letter by October 13th.

  • First Focus Issues Press Release on 2013 Census Data

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    First Focus: First Focus issued a press release on the 2013 Census data that showed a decrease in children’s uninsured rate from nearly 9% in 2012 to 7.6% in 2013. The press release also reiterates the importance of the CHIP program in continuing to provide health coverage to children.

  • First Focus Report Highlights Importance of CHIP for Rural Children

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    First Focus: First Focus released a report showing that children in rural areas rely on Medicaid and CHIP coverage more so than children in urban areas. The report notes that nearly half of all children in rural areas were covered by CHIP in 2012 and that more rural children depend on public coverage than urban children in nearly every state. 

  • First Focus Pens Blog Post and Contributes to Article Supporting CHIP Funding Renewal

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    First Focus: First Focus wrote a blog post and contributed to an article supporting CHIP and calling for the renewal of CHIP funding currently set to expire in September 2015. Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus blogged  in Huffington Post about CHIP’s history, background, benefits, and its impact on children’s health. The second piece, an article in the Houston Chronicle, calls on Congress and its Texas delegates to reauthorize CHIP funding before it expires next year. 

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