Advocates in Arizona and Florida Win Bulldog of Year Awards for Opening Doors to Coverage for Kids

Connecting with children’s advocates and health policy experts from across the country is the highlight of our annual conference for me. I am always inspired by the “doggedness” of our state partners to make children’s lives better. A few years ago, we started a tradition of opening the conference by presenting the “Bulldog of the Year” award to the children’s advocates who displayed great tenacity and indeed stubbornness to improve health care for children.

This year, with so much inspiring work, we presented two Bulldog awards for the first time!

Diana Ragbeer of the Children’s Trust and her colleagues with the Florida Kidswell coalition never gave up the struggle to convince Florida lawmakers to remove the five-year bar to coverage for lawfully residing immigrant children. At a time of increasingly hostile rhetoric toward immigrants by some and gridlock in the legislature blocking Medicaid expansion, Diana and her colleagues kept building upon their bipartisan support and succeeded in ending the wait for lawfully-present children in Florida. Read Diana’s blog here.

The Children’s Action Alliance of Arizona led by Dana Naimark and former Healthy Policy Director Joe Fu (also a CHLN Fellow!) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat overcoming stiff opposition to reopening Arizona’s CHIP program. Children’s Action Alliance convened a Cover Kids Coalition that finally broke through after six long years of nudging policymakers to do the right thing. Read Joe’s blog here.

Both of these victories were able to build on the opportunity created by the enhanced federal CHIP matching rate for children a.k.a. “the bump” to bring these efforts to fruition after many years of hard work. Congrats to this year’s bulldog award winners!

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families and a Research Professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy.