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.

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