The purpose of the ACAP Leadership in Advocacy Award is to enable our plans to show appreciation for their local safety net health care advocates. The Leadership in Advocacy Award will be given to an individual who has partnered or collaborated with an ACAP plan  and whose efforts on behalf of enrollees in Medicaid, Medicare Duals programs, CHIP, Marketplaces, and other safety net programs clearly exceed the norm. Nominees can include, but are not limited to individuals (e.g., leader of a community coalition) who have clearly benefited the safety net by engaging in advocacy, leaders in local health departments, or clinicians who advocate for individual patients, or advocate for the programs as a whole. There is no specific requirement that the advocacy relate to managed care. Previous nominees may be re-nominated, provided they have not won the award in a prior year.

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.

2019 Honoree: Robert Restuccia, Community Catalyst, nominated by Commonwealth Care Alliance

Under Mr. Restuccia’s leadership, Community Catalyst built a track record of working with national, state and local partners to achieve health care reforms at the national level and in more than 40 states. Community Catalyst led successful national campaigns to expand children’s health coverage, curb conflicts of interests created by pharmaceutical marketing, protect consumer interests in hospital and insurer conversions, strengthen hospital community benefits and protect Medicaid from federal and state budget cuts.

Mr. Restuccia is a renowned advocate for access to effective, equitable, affordable care. Throughout his career, Mr. Restuccia has fought for the right to high-quality, affordable health care for marginalized and vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities and substance use disorders. He was one of the founders of Health Care For All in Massachusetts and became its Executive Director in 1989, leading numerous effective campaigns to expand Massachusetts residents’ health coverage.

Mr. Restuccia successfully:

  • Generated $40 million in philanthropic funding to support the state and local consumer organizations working to achieve health reforms at the state and federal level.
  • Expanded the health advocacy movement to more than 40 states across the country plus incubated consumer health advocacy organizations in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
  • Advised on the development of Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), a healthcare organization in Massachusetts that serves over 30,000 low-income adults with complicated health care needs.
  • Worked with six states in 2012 to launch Dual Eligible Demonstration Programs, which seek to create seamless service delivery experiences for dual eligible beneficiaries.

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2018 Honoree: Julius Kolawole, African Alliance of Rhode Island, nominated by NHPRI

Julius Kolawole, President and co-founder of African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI), as well as co-founder and board member of Oasis International, won ACAP’s 2018 Leadership in Advocacy Award.

As a Nigeran immigrant, Mr. Kolawole saw the obstacles that African refugees faced in the U.S. with health and well-being, which is why he founded AARI in 2004. The organization aims to aid vulnerable refugees using outreach, education, economic opportunities and healthcare access, while building a community within the African population. They offer social activities such as hosting community soccer games, encourage preventive care, educate members on healthy diet habits and partner with local community organizations.

Through AARI, Mr. Kolawole also built six community gardens. African immigrants run these gardens that produce fresh crops unique to Africa. These gardens, besides providing rich nourishment and economic opportunities, also serve as a haven for immigrants to come together and interact with one another.

Kolawole also puts on AARI’s Annual African Health Summit, which connects low-income and immigrant communities with health care providers, advocates and community leaders. During this free summit, oftentimes immigrants find out their qualification for benefits and services such as Medicaid.

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2017 Honoree: Deborah Frank, Grow Clinic for Children, nominated by BMC HealthNet Plan

Deborah Frank, a physician at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and director of the hospital’s Grow Clinic for Children, received the 2017 Leadership in Advocacy Award for her work at the Grow Clinic.

The Grow Clinic is an outpatient clinic that provides medical, nutritional, developmental, and dietary assistance, in addition to social services to children diagnosed with Failure to Thrive (FTT). These young patients do not meet healthy height and weight standards, making them vulnerable to learning and emotional disorders, delayed or impaired language and motor skills, serious illnesses and long-lasting growth failure.

Frank established the Grow Clinic in 1984, while she worked as a pediatrician at the Boston City Hospital (now BMC), caring for a disproportionate number of children suffering from malnourishment and food insecurity. The Grow Clinic’s patients are the most vulnerable in the state but they see vast improvements during their time at the clinic. In fact, 80 percent show substantial weight improvement.  Since the clinic’s founding in 1984, 1,650 children who with FTT thrived because of the clinic’s efforts.

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2016 Honoree: Charles King, Housing Works, nominated by Amida Care

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, nominated by UPMC for You

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.

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2014 Honoree: Dennis Heaphy, Disability Policy Consortium, nominated by Commonwealth Care Alliance

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, nominated by Health Plan of San Mateo

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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