The purpose of the ACAP Leadership in Advocacy award is to enable our plans to show appreciation for their local Medicaid advocates. The award is open to individuals who advocate for Medicaid or other low-income health programs and the vulnerable populations these programs serve. Nominees can include, but are not limited to: individuals who have benefited the safety net by engaging in their advocacy; leaders in local health departments; and providers who go above and beyond advocacy for individual patients. There is no specific requirement that the advocacy relate to Medicaid managed care.

The winner of the Leadership in Advocacy Award will receive a plaque, a donation to a charity in their name, and will be asked to join us for an award ceremony during our February Fly-In in Washington, D.C. The winner will also be highlighted in a future ACAP newsletter. All nominees, at the plan’s discretion, are invited to attend ACAP’s CEO Summit, held here in Washington, D.C. in June. ACAP will waive all registration fees for attending nominees.

Nominations for the Leadership in Advocacy Award are collected in October and November. Each ACAP health plan is limited to one nominee per plan. The eligibility requirements, the nomination process and the selection criteria are detailed in the brochure for the 2017 award.

2016 Honoree: Charles King, Housing Works

ACAP presented Charles King, President and Chief Executive Officer of Housing Works, Inc., with its 2016 Leadership in Advocacy Award. Housing Works is an organization dedicated to ending the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain its efforts.

Mr. King co-founded Housing Works in 1990 to serve the thousands of homeless people in New York City who were living with HIV/AIDS at the time. Since then, Housing Works has become the largest community-based and minority-controlled HIV/AIDS service organization in the United States. HousingWorks has served more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and currently serves over 5,000 people each year.

Mr. King is a pioneering HIV/AIDS activist of national stature: Since 2004, he has chaired the Visioning Task Force of the National AIDS Housing Coalition, which has hosted seven national and international research and policy summits on housing and HIV/AIDS. He was also a founding convener of the Campaign to End AIDS, a platform for grassroots AIDS activism across the U.S. King is on the governing body of UNAIDS as a member of the NGO Delegation to the Programme Coordinating Board, and he recently served as Community Co-chair of the New York State Ending the Epidemic Task Force to End the AIDS Epidemic in New York State by 2020, which developed the Blueprint for reducing the number of new HIV infections in the state from 3,000 to under 750 per year by 2020.

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2015 Honoree: Laval Miller-Wilson, Pennsylvania Health Law Project

ACAP named Laval Miller-Wilson, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, the winner of its 2015 Leadership in Advocacy Award. A non-profit law firm with offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, PHLP provides free legal services and advocacy to Pennsylvanians that have trouble accessing publicly administered health coverage or services.

Mr. Miller-Wilson, who has served as PHLP’s Executive Director since 2009, was recognized for his work with health care stakeholders—including providers, insurers, government officials, and consumers—to make Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program and services more accessible.

2014 Honoree: Dennis Heaphy, Disability Policy Consortium

ACAP honored Dennis Heaphy, a health care analyst for the Disability Policy Consortium in Massachusetts and co-chair of Disability Advocates Advancing our Healthcare Rights with 2014 Leadership in Advocacy Award. Mr. Heaphy was recognized for his efforts to assure key consumer protections for persons with disabilities as aspects of the Affordable Care Act were implemented, including demonstration projects designed to serve persons dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

Mr. Heaphy was cited for his leadership role in advocating for improvements to care for individuals living with disabilities through the design of the One Care “duals demonstration” program in Massachusetts. Among the consumer protections arising from Mr. Heaphy’s advocacy are the establishment of a coordinator for independent living long-term supports and services to help medical providers understand the role of non-medical care in overall health and an implementation council comprising a wide range of stakeholders—including persons with disabilities—to monitor the implementation of the OneCare program.

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2013 Honoree: Tricia Berke Vinson, Health Consumer Center

ACAP honored Tricia Berke Vinson, Directing Attorney of the Health Consumer Center for the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo (Calif.) County, with the organization’s first Leadership in Advocacy Award. Ms. Vinson was recognized for her efforts to help low-income residents of San Mateo County overcome barriers to health care and for her staunch advocacy at the state and local level for policies that improve access to health care for vulnerable populations. The award was presented today at a Washington gathering of ACAP-member plan public policy staff. The award recognizes an individual whose work goes beyond the norm and makes a significant difference in the safety net environment.

In addition to serving hundreds of San Mateo County residents in 2012 to help resolve issues related to eligibility, billing, Medicare savings programs and related issues, Ms. Vinson was recognized for her efforts to alleviate the the burden of Medi-Cal cost sharing. She created a monthly Share of Cost Clinic staffed by a team of pro bono volunteer attorneys from Facebook and Fenwick & West, a nearby law firm. These private attorneys work with Legal Aid attorneys to advise seniors and disabled adults about reducing or eliminating their Medi-Cal share of cost in order to access health services. These clinics have resulted in hundreds of beneficiaries gaining full access to Medicaid services.

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