Last November, excitement over the prospects for real change swept a new President into office and gave hope to many who had long since lost hope that things could get better and that government could do good. We all have our own criteria for what constitutes “real” or “good” change, but whatever change may mean, the majority of Americans soundly embraced it, even though we all know that change can sometimes be hard.
For us at CCF, the promise of change has just taken on a new reality. I am truly honored to have been selected by this Secretary, by this Administration, to lead the Centers for Medicaid and State Operations, otherwise known as “Medicaid” (though it also encompasses CHIP). It is a great privilege to serve as a public servant in this Administration. The opportunity presented is enormously exciting and more than a little daunting. Collectively, we have the chance of a lifetime to ensure that every person in America has access to affordable, quality coverage and to make Medicaid and CHIP the best programs they can be. How can we do anything less?
My colleagues at CCF aren’t skipping a beat as they bid me farewell. Today, co-authors Dawn Horner, Jocelyn Guyer and Martha Heberlein are releasing a major report on what children need from health reform. On Monday, CCFer Tricia Brooks is presenting at a Brookings Institution forum on ways to get rid of red tape in Medicaid and CHIP and pursue automatic enrollment in health reform. Liz Arjun, Tricia and our Spitfire Strategies partner, Colleen Chapman, are in Washington state helping the Children’s Alliance work through their plans to ensure that Washington’s new Apple Health for Kids program (Medicaid and CHIP) succeeds in covering all kids. Joe Touschner is working closely with Arkansas partners to help support the state’s implementation of its recently enacted CHIP coverage expansion. (The groups in both Arkansas and Washington are part of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Finish Line project.) Joan Alker is providing analyses to Hill staff on premium assistance, and Cathy Hope and Phil Zorn are busy keeping all of you up-to-date, and hopefully engaged, through this blog.
CCF will continue to do this enormously important work- and so much more- now under the leadership of Joan Alker and Jocelyn Guyer, who will take the reins as CCF’s co directors. You all know them–they are the ones you turn to to understand the intricacies of CHIP financing, or the do’s and dont’s of waiver policies, or the ways to help integrate Medicaid and CHIP into a broader health reform solution. They have led this organization with me since it began 4 years ago and have shaped and contributed to every aspect of its work, its vision, and success. CCF could be in no better hands.
This is all good change. Not necessarily easy or simple, but good. As for me, I don’t want to make too much out of all this change talk. It’s true that I may have to change cars as I try to figure out an economical and environmentally friendly way to commute to Baltimore, but I’m not leaving CCF’s vision or its partners. We are all working to improve our nation’s health care system, each in our different ways. And one thing that most certainly will never change is the value I place on all that I have learned from you over the years. I thank you deeply for that; please keep it coming.