The opening General Session of the 2014 NACHC Policy and Issues Forum set the stage for an exciting conference. Up first was the U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who was honored by NACHC for his passionate leadership on behalf of health centers. Cummings set the room on fire with his words of support for affordable healthcare and Medicaid expansion to thunderous applause. “When someone says they are going to turn down Medicaid dollars while people are sick, there is something wrong with that picture.”
Rep. Cummings reminded the crowd of health center leaders that the long hours and difficult cases they often confront are all for a greater purpose. “You may never appear on the front page of the Washington Post,” he said. “No one may ever say, ‘thank you.’ You probably won’t even make the local super market tabloid but remember this: you change the trajectory of people’s destinies.”
The representative was followed by financial planner, physician and Forbes contributor Carolyn McClanahan who was honored for excellence in healthcare journalism. McClanahan is a big supporter of the health centers often writing about the economic savings and big impact they provide to the healthcare system. The physician turned financial planner underscored the value health centers bring to healthcare while generating bipartisan support (see recent article for more).
Describing health centers as a “gem” McClanahan said, “Maintaining good health is key to a productive country. Every economist understands this. Community Health Centers can do this,” and called for “permanent, consistent funding” for health centers.
The writer also encouraged the crowd to tell the Community Health Center story by getting on social media and reaching out to everyone, including their representatives and health care journalists.
Finally, NACHC honored longtime East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) President, Jack Cradock with the Cornell Scott Excellence in Leadership Award. Serving on both the NACHC board and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, for nearly 40 years Jack has been on the forefront of initiatives to grow America’s Health Centers and expand health care access.
“What goes on here—this is people caring for other people, this is what a country should be. It’s been a pleasure and blessing,” said Cradock, who is retiring at the end of this year.
Follow the NACHC P&I conversation on Twitter by using #NACHCpi.