Nearly 2,500 Community Health Center advocates from around the country – including senior executives, clinicians, board members and other health care representatives –have gathered this week under one roof for the 2018 NACHC Policy & Issues Forum [see media advisory].
The Opening General Session offered plenty of information about the policy recommendations for health centers amid a time of great change. Attendees were roused by the visionary rhetoric from a host of speakers. NACHC Board Chair Jim Luisi set the tone when he said, “As providers, we face continued risk and uncertainty. But, it’s imperative we not run from challenge or change, but anticipate it with the future in mind.”
Luisi also outline the core goals for health centers:
- to sustain long-term, stable and adequate funding
- preserve Medicaid as a source of vital coverage
- to build workforce capacity as we are called to take on larger roles in the protection of public health and providing mental health and substance disorder treatment
- to expand the utilization of support technology, including telehealth.
The points were described in more detail by policy staff for health center state delegations gearing up to meet with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
In addition to the policy prep, General Session attendees were also treated to a fresh perspective on health care from guest speaker Ali Velshi, MSNBC Anchor and Business Correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. A native Canadian, Velshi provided a thoughtful comparison of Canada’s health system — where all medically necessary health services are insured– versus the United States where insurance coverage has expanded but many still remain uninsured and shut out of health care. Velshi warned about the dangers of politicizing the debate about health care, observing that, “We are not done with the broader conversation about health care. There is a danger to the degree that this conversation gets politicized. There has to be a way to have a conversation about health care and bring it back into the center.”
But the real applause line came when Velshi underscored the accomplishments of health centers and made the case that supporting their efforts was critical. “Our goal should be to get more to Community Health Centers. There is a moral underpinning to the way you consider the provision of health care, which is meaningful… Fundamentally nothing works as well as Community Health Centers.”
Later this week we’ll hear from Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who will address attendees on Friday, March 16, at 10:15 am. We will provide you with an update on developments as they happen.