On November 14, Community Catalyst’s New England Alliance for Children’s Health (NEACH) hosted its annual Children’s Health Care Summit in Worcester, Massachusetts. The summit covered topics such as consumer assistance programs, foster youth and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an assessment of the policy environment on the federal level.

Updates from the New England states highlighted accomplishments and challenges in the past year and opportunities for the upcoming year. ACA implementation was cited as an opportunity for advocacy in Massachusetts. Vermont and Rhode Island highlighted the importance of focusing on affordability of plans in the ACA Exchanges. The shift in the political climate may mean changes in the viability of Medicaid expansion particularly in Maine and New Hampshire. Connecticut advocates highlighted their successful efforts to maintain coverage and benefits for children, parents and pregnant women in the state’s Medicaid program – HUSKY. Budget deficits were cited by most of the states as a challenge for the coming year.

The conversations at the summit were also shaped by policy developments on the federal level. Community Catalyst’s Director of External Affairs and Policy, Amy Rosenthal and Director of Strategic Policy, Michael Miller offered an informative and lively update on the election’s impact on ACA implementation, and what the current fiscal debate means for health programs. Their presentation stressed that Medicaid is very much on the table for deficit discussions and more than ever state advocates need sharing stories of what Medicaid means for families.

One exciting new component at this year’s summit was a discussion of how ACA implementation benefits foster youth. Community Catalyst’s Senior Policy Analyst, Kate Lewandowski underscored the key provisions for foster care children and youth under the ACA. Kate helped bring advocates up to speed on the new expansion of Medicaid coverage for former foster youth that begin January 2014. For more on that issue please check out our paper on Foster Youth and ACA.

Thank you to all our partners for making the 2012 NEACH Children’s Health Care Summit a success! We came away so energized and excited for a very productive 2013. For more information on the summit including links to the presentations, please visit our website.

 — Chiedza Mufunde, Graduate Intern New England Alliance for Children’s Health