|The latest news from and for state health care advocates
In each edition, we'll feature an action, victory, campaign, or interesting tactic shared by a state advocate. Send us your updates.
In This Issue:
Buzz around the States
New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty created a new frequently asked questions fact sheet about the Medicaid expansion in their state.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy published an issue brief about the Colorado budget and the federal sequestration process.
Pennsylvania Health Access Network raised awareness about the need to protect Medicare and Medicare on Grandparent’s Day earlier this month.
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States in Focus
Minnesota: Why Defeating the Voter Restriction Amendment Matters to the Health of Minnesota
TakeAction Minnesota’s health care team doesn’t just work on health care. This fall, the team is also working hard to defeat the Voter Restriction Amendment, an amendment that would take decision-making power of the hands of Minnesotans and eliminate the voice of people like us in critical decisions. Every week we’re knocking on doors and making phone calls because the future of health care reform will suffer if more of us are cut out of our democracy.
This winter, when the legislature returns, lawmakers will face two major choices about public health care in our state: whether or not to expand Minnesota’s Medical Assistance (or Medicaid) Program, and whether or not to save MinnesotaCare. By taking expanding Medicaid, Minnesota could provide affordable, high-quality health insurance to 57,000 more people in our state, funded 100% by the federal government for the first three years and 95% after that.
Legislators will also face a choice about the future of the MinnesotaCare program (MN Care). MN Care is a pillar of Minnesota’s strong public health care system, a program that provides health care to 148,000 low- and moderate-income Minnesotans who need protection and support in order to find affordable health care coverage. In January, legislators will choose either to save and expand MN Care by creating what’s called a Basic Health Plan or they will choose to eliminate the program and move adults off Minnesota Care and onto the private insurance market. Creating this kind of “VoucherCare” system would double or even triple the cost of insurance for many current MN Care recipients and would be a step toward destroying the public health care infrastructure we have worked so hard to create and protect in this state.
The choice to expand Medical Assistance and to save and expand MinnesotaCare through a Basic Health Plan is a choice to keep people healthy and preserve Minnesota’s legacy as a leader in health care. And, as we work to defeat the Voter Restriction amendment, we understand that these fights are interconnected.
Many of the same people who would lose the ability to vote if this amendment passes may see their health care coverage in jeopardy in 2013. The work to defeat Voter Restriction and the work to save MinnesotaCare are both about giving people a say in decisions that directly impact their lives. We need MORE voice in our system and MORE power over decisions that are made. Not less. After all, it is our vote, our money, and our health at stake.
Written by Randal Serr and Shelly Braun
Originally posted on Health Matters blog on September 8, 2012
Utah: Navigators and Utah's Latest Uninsured Numbers
A record 377,700 Utahns do not have health insurance according to the latest report released by the Utah Department of Health (see the Salt Lake Tribune article about the report here. That’s 13.4 percent of Utah’s population. Fifty-six percent of Utah’s uninsured adults are employed—and almost all of them stand to benefit from the implementation of federal health reform. Most live in low-income households.
- 95% of the uninsured in Utah are in households with incomes less than 400% FPL (federal poverty level), meaning if they buy private health insurance in the new individual health insurance exchange they will qualify for premium tax credits.
- 76% are in households with incomes less than 200% of poverty, meaning they would potentially be eligible for the Basic Health Plan if Utah chooses to adopt it, or if they are children, they are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- 57% are in households with incomes below 133% of poverty meaning they will potentially be eligible for Medicaid if Utah expands the program to 138% FPL (see our article (link to, http://blog.healthpolicyproject.org/?p=1253) in this month’s newsletter).
By these numbers, most Utahns who will be using the new health exchange will have no or little experience with health insurance. What they need are “Navigators.”
Navigators are an integral part of expanding coverage through the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Navigators will be trained, unbiased helpers who will do outreach to those who are eligible for coverage, assist them through the process of choosing plans, and provide guidance for prudent use of benefits.
Utah legislators face some policy decisions in the design of the Navigator program:
- formalizing the standards that all entities must meet in order to be eligible to be awarded Navigator funds through the new exchange
- creating the set of training standards all entities awarded Navigator funds must meet
- deciding if Navigators have to meet any licensing, certification, or other standards
- deciding how entities will be awarded Navigator funds
deciding how Navigators funds will be generated (for example, a service charge through the exchange).
What we think:
UHPP encourages Utah’s decision makers to design Utah’s Navigator program with the population that will be using Navigator services in mind: 76% of Utah’s uninsured will benefit from public health insurance.
UHPP also encourages Utah’s decision makers to adopt the “no wrong door” approach to coverage—that is, wherever someone interacts with the health care system, they should be able to find help in getting coverage. One way to implement this approach is to create a competitive process for awarding the Navigator contracts, allowing multiple entities (within the guidelines) to function as Navigators in Utah.
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Washington: Everett Mom Develops Confidence and Skills at Advocacy Camp
Pam Oliver of Everett has been a daily advocate for her five-year-old son, Steve Jr., since he was born prematurely at 25 weeks weighing just over 3 pounds.
*Photo above courtesy of Pam Oliver: Steve Jr., Pam, and Steve Sr. meet with their Senator Nick Harper in his Olympia office during the 2012 Legislative Session.
“Having a medically fragile son, I had a lot to say, but wasn’t sure how to say it and whom to say it to,” remembers Pam.
She got some concrete answers when she attended Advocacy Camp last year, where she took an interactive workshop on state government. This gave her an in-depth look at the legislative process and opportunities to ask detailed questions. Before this, says Pam, “I did not know that the average person could have a say in legislative issues.”
She was inspired by a media workshop and intimate Q&A with Seattle Times editorial writer Lynne Varner, whose message and personal story made Pam feel like she could rise to be a successful advocate, too. Pam received broad and one-on-one support in crafting her son’s experience into compelling testimony directed at legislators.
“Upon leaving Advocacy Camp, I had a newfound confidence,” she recalls. “I immediately started to contact my local legislators and U.S. Senator Patty Murray with the notes that I created at camp. When I got responses, I was even more encouraged.”
In February, Pam traveled to Olympia to speak with legislators about her son’s special health care needs in order to protect Apple Health for Kids. And in June, the state’s Health Benefit Exchange Board appointed her to be a consumer advisor to Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange.
What motivates her to be involved?
“My son has special needs—and we are African American. I want every child, regardless of race, ability, or income, to get what he needs. I want to ensure that federal health care reform helps families like mine—and all families. The more I learn, the more I realize how critical it is that people who are personally affected, like me, are involved and our voices are heard.”
Like Pam, you can put your passion to work for kids and make a powerful difference. Advocacy Camp can help you do it. Apply today!
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Beat of the Month
In honor of the hardworking Americans and you hardworking advocates who are giving your all to protect our health care choices, the Beat of the Month is the Huey Lewis and the News classic, “Workin' for a Livin'”!
Tell Republican Leaders to Support Middle Class Families—NOT Tax Cuts for the Richest 2 Percent
When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate last month, he joined Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell in advancing a dangerous plan that's been rejected by a majority of Americans.
Representative Ryan's plan would take away health care protections for women, slash health care for seniors, and jeopardize health care for 30 million children who rely on Medicaid to get basic health services.
Sign our petition to Speaker John Boehner, Senator Mitch McConnell, Governor Mitt Romney, and Representative Paul Ryan. Tell them American families want solutions that help the middle class NOT more tax breaks for the super rich.
New Resources from Families USA and Stand Up for Health Care
Take me to back issues of the Beat!
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