It was over in a flash but we loved the 2016 NACHC Policy and Issues Forum. It was great to see the throngs of grassroots advocates descending on Capitol Hill for their visits with Members and staff, many posting their photos on the “Twitterverse.” We also enjoyed honoring the grassroots advocates for their passionate work on behalf of health centers at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The takeaways are overwhelming when you are under the same roof with more than two thousand people who dedicate their lives to community health and affordable care. For instance, one learns about the longstanding impact of public health problem and the critical role that health centers play as trusted providers. Specifically, the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the healthcare needs of the affected community was an issue of focus.
“Michigan is the canary in the coal mine that represents the underinvestment in care to communities in need,” said Kim Silbilsky, Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA). “We are not truly successful until we have people in communities who truly have access to care the way you and I have.” Ms. Silbilsky, who is retiring, was presented with the NACHC Lifetime Achievement Award at the General Session.
Jim Macrae, Acting Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration also underscored the important role of health centers during his general session remarks, “Your role in public health is essential,” he said, citing the health center response to the Zika virus threat in addition to the Flint water crisis. Macrae also praised the NACHC report [see press release] on workforce challenges at health centers, noting that nearly 60 percent health centers said they hired someone who trained at their health center. We agree that this is a pretty remarkable statistic! And this, too: more than 18 percent of health centers have hired a current or former patient.
Aside from the general sessions, there were also a host of education sessions that brought into focus the nuts and bolts of operating a health center — sessions about payment reform, leveraging hospital partnerships, oral health, and the 340B drug pricing program. Looking at the list of sessions one can get a sense of the exhaustive variety of issues that health center providers deal with on a regular basis, and have done so for more than 50 years.
If you were not fortunate to attend the NACHC P & I you can experience the next best thing by following the #NACHCpi16 hashtag on Twitter and check out the posts and photos.
Next up on the conference agenda is the NACHC Community Health Institute, which takes place in Chicago on August 26th.