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Friday, February 1, 2013

HA Day One!

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

After a wet and stormy night, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and Families USA kicked off our annual Health Action conference at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.

Despite the rough night, health care advocates from across the country made the early start time of 8:30 a.m. for the opening plenary. And good thing they did because newly elected Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) gave a rousing opening speech, followed by another big hitter—Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Both Senators reminded us just why we do this work, and why it is so important to continue our fight—because we are here to protect the vulnerable, especially when they are at their most vulnerable.

After the first session of informative and workshops on wide-ranging topics, the advocates gathered again for the afternoon plenary that featured top White House official, Gene Sperling. We were reminded that although we have come a long way in the past few years, the next year will be full of key moments where we will be called upon to ensure critical health care services are protected, starting with the upcoming federal budget fight.

Finally, we ended the day diving into the nitty-gritty of enrollment and outreach opportunities for the year ahead. Top officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), Cindy Mann and Gary Cohen, as well as our own exchange expert, Claire McAndrew, discussed what advocates should expect in the year ahead as we continue to implement the Affordable Care Act in the states. The speakers especially focused on key issues around outreach and enrollment and how they tie into exchange implementation.

If you couldn’t make it to DC, make sure to check out our conference site— Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@FamiliesUSA #HA2013) for live updates.

Health Action 2013 has gotten off to a great start, and there are still two more days to go!