« January 2013 Issue

New Year, New Successes: The Impact of the Affordable Care Act Implementation Fund

January is a month for recognizing the previous year’s accomplishments and lessons learned and setting goals for the year ahead. At Community Catalyst, one of our New Year’s resolutions is to highlight the stories of the impact of our work and the work of our partners. Whether it is the impact of consumer health advocacy on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,  advocating for strong hospital financial assistance regulations, or community coalitions working together to improve the health of communities, we want the world to know about it.

Earlier this year, we made our first major foray into web-based storytelling in the form of “Stories from the States: the Impact of the Affordable Care Act Implementation Fund.”  The states profiled on “Stories from the States” receive support from the Affordable Care Act Implementation Fund, which is led by Community Catalyst through the support of a unique collaboration of eight leading philanthropic organizations.

The goal of “Stories from the States” is to show advocates’ specific impact on key areas of ACA implementation, including educating the public about the law, building support for consumer-friendly state implementation among constituencies such as small business owners and communities of color, and working on developing health insurance Exchanges.

In Colorado and Florida, advocates had an impact by collecting, listening to, organizing, and translating the feedback and perspectives of consumers. The two projects in Colorado focused on providing consumer input on Exchange development and emphasizing the opportunities in the ACA for the Latino community. In Florida, a toxic political environment for the ACA was improved by reaching out to small business leaders and sharing their perspective with policymakers and the public. Whether it was an intense organizing effort to pull off 53 community forums, using video to highlight the experiences of individual small business owners, or hosting bilingual community meetings, advocates enabled the voices of Coloradans and Floridians to be heard. Advocates shared the consumer feedback that resulted from this grassroots engagement with the policymakers who will be making critical implementation decisions in the year ahead. 

In Virginia and California, advocates took advantage of opportunities to comment publicly on different phases of Exchange development. Virginia advocates collaborated on a series of white papers about Exchange-related topics, such as recommending the state pursue a more independent governance structure. By going public with a number of consumer-friendly positions, advocates provided crucial guidance to state policymakers. Advocates in California are weighing in on decisions large and small as implementation continues to speed along. A high level of collaboration between a broad coalition of partners and Covered California (the name of the state’s Exchange), is producing results that work for consumers.

Successful advocacy can take many forms – a reality that is reflected in these stories. The stories represent different approaches and strategies but also carry common themes. Regardless of the issue, advocates are constantly innovating and seeking new ways to get their message out. “Stories from the States” makes it possible for people in and out of the health policy world to learn about these successful advocacy strategies, view photos and videos, and see how investing in consumer health advocacy strengthens the health system for everyone. “Stories from the States” is part of our ongoing commitment to raising the profile of consumer health advocacy and its positive impact on policy change, a commitment we expect will last well beyond the celebration of the New Year.

O N   T H E   W I R E

Robert Restuccia, executive director, was appointed to The State Health Care Cost Containment Commission, a project of the University of Virginia Miller Center for Public Affairs, which will develop cost effective state strategies for curbing the growth in overall healthcare expenditures. Restuccia was also named as a Practice Change Senior Leader for Aging and Health by The Atlantic Philanthropies and The Hartford Foundation. In this role, he will provide input and expertise to projects aimed at improving care for older adults.

David Jordan, Dental Access Project director, discussed dental coverage for children under the Affordable Care Act's Essential Health Benefits in a Washington Post article.

Christine Barber, senior policy analyst, was appointed as a consumer liaison representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. As a consumer representative, Barber will support the interests of consumers in insurance regulatory issues.

Renée Markus Hodin, Integrated Care Advocacy Project director, is serving on the Advisory Group for the Program to Integrate Care for Dual Eligibles. Led by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the group aims to enhance the long-term viability and impact of high-performing integrated health plans for the dual eligible population.

Quynh Chi Nguyen, policy and program associate, recently authored a report, Moving Forward Despite Roadblocks, highlighting the continuing work of state advocates to develop Exchanges for their states.

Robert Resutccia explained the potential for the Affordable Care Act to significanlty decrease disparities in health care in a Boston Globe article.

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