New York State Medicaid Director Announces Initiative for Young Children at UHF Conference

Recognizing that healthy children have a much better chance at growing into healthy adults, New York State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson announced the First 1000 Days on Medicaid Initiative at United Hospital Fund's annual Medicaid conference on July 20. The Initiative aims to improve access to health and social services for children during their first three years.

Approximately 59 percent of children in New York between birth and age 3 are covered by Medicaid, giving the state a unique opportunity to address social and economic factors that can impact lifelong health, Helgerson told the meeting's 450 attendees in his keynote address. In October the Initiative will roll out a 10-point plan to improve access to services for children during their first years, with a preliminary goal of increasing the percentage of children developmentally ready to begin school. Currently, Helgerson said, roughly 40 percent of children in the state enter school developmentally behind where they should be.

“Those first few years are so important,” Helgerson said. “If we do a better job of trying to influence the lives of our youngest children, we can prevent so much cost, so much misery, so many problems in the future.”

UHF is a partner in the First 1000 Days Initiative, along with the New York Medicaid Redesign team, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, The Albany Promise, The Center for Health Care Strategies, and the State University of New York.

For more information and background about the initiative, click on the link below.