The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has named KEJC Director Rich Seckel a 2020 Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion, recognizing Seckel's long career advocating for low-income and working families.
KEJC is honored to have our work recognized with this award. We are particularly thrilled that the Foundation highlighted a KEJC lawsuit successfully halting a Medicaid program waiver that would have resulted in 100,000 Kentuckians losing their health coverage. Past and present KEJC staffers Anne Marie Regan, Cara Stewart, Betsy Davis Stone, and Miranda Brown all deserve special recognition for their incredible advocacy work on that lawsuit.
"Advocacy at its best and most empowering is a team effort. Thanks to the Foundation, KEJC staff and our many advocacy partners," said Seckel. "Plus, a special shout out to long-time KEJC attorney Anne Marie Regan, whose expert and steadfast work made many of our advocacy achievements possible all the way from 2002 to 2018. I'm honored to share this award with all of you."
KEJC also submitted a letter supporting the nomination of the Louisville Urban League's President & CEO Sadiqa Reynolds as a 2020 Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion. We are very pleased to see Reynolds recognized for her critical work reducing racial health inequities in Louisville.
Here's the release from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rich Seckel Recognized for Helping Maintain Health Insurance Coverage Gains in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky, December 10, 2020 — Rich Seckel, director of Kentucky Equal Justice Center (KEJC), has been named a Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion for his work to protect health care coverage gains for persons living on low incomes in Kentucky.
The Champion award is given by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky to recognize Kentucky individuals and organizations engaged in improving the health of people in their communities and/or the entire Commonwealth through policy change.
Under Seckel's direction, KEJC filed a lawsuit that ultimately halted implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, a Medicaid program waiver that included work requirements, premium mandates and administrative penalties that would have led 100,000 Kentuckians to lose health coverage, said Sheila A. Schuster, PhD, in nominating Seckel for the award.
"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 KEJC on the Medicaid waiver lawsuit), added: "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 also is a Community Advisory Council member of the Foundation, and was instrumental in the creation of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky: He led a coalition effort to protect $45 million in charitable assets when Kentucky Blue Cross and Blue Shield merged with Anthem; that funding led to the creation of the Foundation and provides the endowment for its work. Seckel has worked at Kentucky Equal Justice Center since 1979. He often has served as an advocate on poverty law issues before state agencies and the Kentucky General Assembly. Mr. Seckel is a founding Board Member of Kentucky Voices for Health. He holds a BA from Oberlin College and an MSW from West Virginia University. Before graduate school, he volunteered as a boycott organizer for the United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO. In November 2016, he was recognized with the Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award by the Kentucky Nonprofit Network.
Seckel is now eligible for the Gil Friedell Health Policy Champion award, which comes with a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to be given 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 here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth.