Funded by the Packard Foundation, the Finish Line Project provides financial and technical support to advocacy organizations in selected states that are best positioned to make significant advances in children’s health care coverage.
Spitfire serves as lead counsel for messaging and communication strategy for the project. And, as a current partner with the Georgetown Center for Children and Families (CCF), Spitfire is responsible for the development and implementation of coordinated messaging around the issues of children’s health and health care coverage for state-based advocates.
Involving state-based advocacy organizations in 10 states, Finish Line began when Spitfire and the Packard Foundation realized that state-based advocates needed detailed and intensive communications technical assistance (TA). We work with the states to develop and implement strategic communications plans based on the local policy and fiscal situation, conduct monthly TA calls, provide counsel on forming relationships with local reporters, and help draft materials and messaging. Spitfire coaches travel to each state to meet with advocates, and also conduct trainings as needed on messaging, strategy and policy communication.
Over the course of the Finish Line Project, participating states have had significant policy successes in part due to their work with Spitfire. We have shown that even in challenging political climates, it is possible to achieve success.
Over the course of the Finish Line Project, participating states have had significant policy successes in part due to their work with Spitfire. We have shown that even in challenging political climates, it is possible to achieve success. For example, Texas has lifted key restrictions to health care coverage eligibility as a result of working with the narrative messages developed by Spitfire and the Packard Foundation. The easing of these restrictions has led to new health care coverage for thousands of children.
By 2012, several Finish Line states had reduced their rates of uninsured children to 5 percent or lower. However, much of these gains were placed at risk with the legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In anticipation of the second anniversary of the law and the Supreme Court decision on the law, Spitfire worked with state advocates to develop messaging around the importance of the ACA to children and their families and expand their storybanks. As a result, advocates were able to secure positive media coverage about the law’s provisions and the direct benefits to state residents, helping change the overall tone of public discourse on health reform.
Currently, Spitfire is working with states to get out front on a variety of policy goals – including reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid expansion, health literacy, network adequacy and other efforts – to ensure all kids receive the care they need to stay healthy and succeed.
Spitfire is also working with Finish Line states to develop their social media capacity and leverage social media channels to activate target audiences. As a result of this effort, the state advocates have experienced rapid and consistent growth in the size and influence of their social networks on multiple platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In addition, they are integrating social media into their broader communications plans and regularly reviewing metrics and results to adjust their outreach and maximize their impact.