Testimony of Rachel Metz, Data and Research Manager before the Committee on Health

March 28, 2022
Testimony
Person Testifying: Rachel Metz
Title: Data and Research Manager, DC Action
Testimony Heard By: Committee on Health

Hello Chair Gray and members of the Committee on Health. Thank you for the opportunity to address the DC Council as it reviews the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget for the Department of Health Care Finance. I am Rachel Metz, the Data and Research Manager at DC Action.

DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy initiatives bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change. We are also the home of DC KIDS COUNT, an online resource that tracks key indicators of child and youth well-being.

Chair Gray, we want to thank you and the Council as a whole for your longstanding work to pass legislation, and try to find the funds to make recertification in the DC Healthcare Alliance an annual process. We know that the switch to six-month certification resulted in a drop of nearly one-third of the enrollees. A decade later, with community members as well as health care and legal providers testifying each year about the negative impact of frequent recertification, it is past time to change it. We are thrilled to see that the Mayor’s budget includes funding for this important policy change.

For District residents with time-sensitive healthcare needs, including those who are pregnant, even a brief period without health insurance can have dire consequences. Having one recertification period for the Alliance and another for other public health insurance programs created a double-standard – a troubling one given that roughly half of Alliance participants are Latinx and just under one-fifth are Black. By re-aligning the Alliance requirements with those for other programs we are taking a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, we know that a high percentage of those seeking support at Economic Security Administration service centers were re-enrolling in the Alliance, so this change should help lower the Department of Human Services’ administrative burden. We are hopeful that this reduced burden will allow for improved service for all District residents enrolling in important family support programs. We encourage close monitoring of the rollout of the new Alliance recertification policy. That could include inviting families who participate in the program – and any who are de-enrolled during the recertification process – to share their experiences.