Work on successful lawsuit against changes in Medicaid earns Rich Seckel a Kentucky Healthy Policy Champion award

Rich Seckel

The point man in a lawsuit that blocked changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program has been honored for his work by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Rich Seckel, director of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, which helps legal-service programs in the state, was named a Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion “for his work to protect health care coverage gains for persons living on low incomes in Kentucky,” the foundation said in a news release.

The foundation gives the award to Kentucky individuals and organizations who help improve the health of people in their communities and/or the state through policy change.

Under Seckel ‘s direction, the KEJC filed a lawsuit that kept then-Gov. Matt Bevin from implementing a federal waiver that would have added work requirements, premiums and administrative penalties to Medicaid.

The waiver application said the state’s Medicaid rolls would have 95,000 fewer people five years after implementation than they would have without it, much of it from noncompliance with the new rules.
Seckel was nominated by Louisville psychologist and mental-health advocate Sheila A. Schuster, who was one of 2019’s Healthy Policy Champions.
“Rich is the absolute epitome of the excellent health policy advocate,” Schuster said. “He has offered his considerable policy expertise, outstanding writing skills, incisive analysis and strategic thinking, and his utmost generosity in sharing his time and talents (and that of his staff) to nearly every significant health policy initiative that has happened in Kentucky over the past thirty years.”
Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, which worked with Seckel on the lawsuit, said, “Through Rich’s passionate and organized work with a team of legal advocates, KEJC has provided effective advocacy, consumer assistance and empowerment, policy change, and education around social-justice and health issues.”Seckel is a member of the foundation’s Community Advisory Council, and was instrumental in the creation of the foundation, leading a coalition effort to use the $45 million in charitable assets of Kentucky Blue Cross and Blue Shield when it merged with Anthem Inc. The money provides the endowment for the foundation’s work.

At KEJC since 1979, Seckel often advocates on poverty-law issues before state agencies and the legislature. Before earning a master’s in social work from West Virginia University, he was a volunteer boycott organizer for the United Farm Workers.
Seckel is now eligible for the Gil Friedell Health Policy Champion award, which comes with a $5,000 grant to a Kentucky-based nonprofit of the winner’s choice. The winner of the Friedell award will be announced later this month.
Nominations for the Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion Award are accepted at any time. See details on the foundation’s website.
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