Today nearly 3,000 health center leaders in attendance at the NACHC 2017 P & I descended upon Capitol Hill and made their case to decision-makers about the importance of preserving and strengthening the Health Center Program. Of particular concern to health centers far and wide is the looming primary care funding cliff, which will result in a 70 percent cut in funding to health centers (and an estimated 9 million patients losing care) if Congress does not address it by October 1, 2017. The media spotlight on this issue has helped put some wind in the sails of these advocates. In a column posted today in Forbes, Carolyn McClanahan, MD, urged congressional lawmakers to extend funding for health centers for another five years, arguing that: “CHCs currently serve about 25 million patients, mostly low income individuals. In addition to medical care, many provide dental and mental health care. They do this very efficiently and the care they provide saves the rest of us billions of dollars annually. It costs less than $1,000 per patient per year to provide all this care. This is astounding.”
The best part of advocacy day is reading all of the positive buzz and seeing photos on Twitter (follow the hashtag #nachcpi17 or #ValueCHCs). Scheduled for later today at the Newseum is a reception that will honor the grassroots advocacy champs who have outdone themselves rallying support for health centers.
For those that stayed behind today there were a host of interesting education sessions to attend. We stopped by the session “Expanding the Ability of Health Centers to Serve Veterans Through Coordinated Systems of Care,” and heard amazing stories about the work health centers are doing to care for veterans — using mobile vans to bring affordable dental health to veterans in New Jersey, or transitioning homeless veterans to housing in Hawaii.
There was also a session focused on the various strategies health centers use to address the social determinants of health in their own communities, and a “Twitter 101” session to bring health centers up-to-date in the age of social media. These are only a few highlights of numerous and well-attended sessions that took place starting at 8:30 this morning.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to keep you up to date about what is happening at the 2017 NACHC P & I.