Today, LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein issued a statement in response to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) announcement that BAYOU HEALTH Director Ruth Kennedy was one of ten individuals and organizations nationally recognized for her efforts to promote health coverage for children.

"For many years Ruth has worked tirelessly to improve the health of Louisiana's children," said Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "Ruth has brought the same passion and consumer-driven focus to her work as the architect of BAYOU HEALTH, and I am pleased to see her get the recognition she deserves. We all owe Ruth a debt of gratitude for her service to the people of Louisiana."

Ruth Kennedy is Deputy Director of Louisiana Medicaid and Director of BAYOU HEALTH. BAYOU HEALTH is the state's new approach to health care for 865,000 Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients. LDH has contracted with five health plans. Each eligible Medicaid and LaCHIP enrollee will select one of those plans, which are then responsible for coordinating that person's health care services.

BAYOU HEALTH will phase in over the next seven months with the first region (the four-parish New Orleans area and the Northshore areas) beginning member choice enrollment on Dec. 15 and going live Feb. 1.  The other areas of the state will phase in over 60-day increments following the first one.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.

See below for the release from CMS.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                         Contact:  CMS Press Office
November 21, 2011
(202) 690-6145

Louisiana Official Recognized for Excellence in Children's Health Outreach
CMS Honors Efforts to Enroll Eligible Children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Ruth Kennedy, Medicaid Deputy Director for Bayou Health in the Louisiana Department of Health has been recognized along with nine other organizations and individuals for outstanding efforts to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

"The efforts of Ruth Kennedy and the other honorees have helped eligible children get the high quality coverage and care that Medicaid and CHIP provide," said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D. "These honorees have not only helped to improve participation in health coverage, but also have enriched our understanding of the best ways to help consumers obtain and keep health coverage." 

Since 1998, Ruth Kennedy has had a pioneering influence on the path of outreach and enrollment efforts across the country.  Under her leadership, for example, Louisiana dispatched Medicaid eligibility workers to conduct outreach throughout the State, actively engaging eligible families rather than waiting for families to come to the eligibility office, and the State was among the first to implement Express Lane Eligibility.  The changes she has made have helped improve access to coverage not just for children, but for adults as well:  Louisiana has reduced the eligibility processing time for pregnant women to just three days and has simplified eligibility for parents.  Ruth is best known for her accomplishments related to retention - ensuring that eligible children and adults stay covered for as long as they qualify.  Ruth's aggressive efforts over many years have catalyzed numerous process improvements -- including the use of telephone and paperless renewals - so that the rate of case closures for procedural reasons at renewal dropped from 22 percent to less than one percent.  Her leadership has not only resulted in tangible outcomes for beneficiaries, but also in the workforce where she has promoted and achieved significant culture change in Medicaid eligibility offices.

The recipients of the ECHOE (Excellence in Children's Health Outreach and Enrollment) honor are:

-          Dayanne Leal, Children's Health Policy and Outreach Manager, Health Care For All, Massachusetts

-          Ann Bacharach, Special Projects Director, Pennsylvania Health Law Program

-          Jodi Ray, Project Director, Florida Covering Kids and Families, University of South Florida

-          Gale Marshall, Two Feathers Media, North Carolina

-          Phillip Bergquist, Manager of Health Center Operations, CHIPRA Project Director, Michigan Primary Care Association

-          Ruth Kennedy, Medicaid Deputy Director/Bayou Health, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

-          Oklahoma Health Care Authority

-          Children's Defense Fund -Texas

-          Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota

-          Cathy Kaufmann, Administrator, Oregon Healthy Kids

Under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), CMS has awarded $90 million in outreach grants since 2009.  These grants are aimed at ensuring further improvements in reaching children who are eligible but unenrolled. An additional $40 million in funding will be made available under the Affordable Care Act for improving outreach and enrollment efforts. ECHOE honorees include past and current CHIPRA outreach and enrollment grantees, as well as groups working in partnership with grantees.  Their activities include using technology in innovative ways to enroll eligible children, enlisting schools in effective outreach, sponsoring a successful enrollment telethon and designing the systems needed to ensure that eligible children retain their health coverage for as long as they qualify.

"The efforts of State, Tribal and community partners, like our honorees, have helped to achieve significant progress toward reducing the number of children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP," said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. "Because of their work, participation rates have improved nationally and in every region of the country, and we are better prepared to meet future enrollment challenges."

For information on each honoree, please visit:

For information on a new CMS survey that shows high parent satisfaction rates with the level of coverage and quality of care their children receive under Medicaid and CHIP, please visit:


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