Day four of National Health Center Week 2014 was capped off by very uplifting remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. Burwell spoke during yesterday’s NACHC Teleforum and was joined by health center leaders, and NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden. In her remarks Secretary Burwell noted that she hears a constant refrain about how important health centers are in the U.S. delivery system. Calling health centers “game changers” Burwell also noted that one in 15 Americans now use health centers as their primary care medical home. She added:
“It is my sincere hope that as we work together we will make every week National Health Center Week in terms of what it means to the American people. Thank you for everything you are doing to get patients covered. You are the anchors of both access and quality on an everyday basis.”
Mary Wakefield, PhD, Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, also praised the work of health centers in providing quality care while simultaneously taking on new responsibilities, such as connecting patients and communities with affordable coverage options. She noted that more than six million people have learned about insurance options and enrolled thanks to their work. Even while helping to reduce the ranks of the uninsured health centers have continued to meet or exceed national average clinical quality measures and are offering new services. Most important, Wakefield said that 54 percent of health centers have at least one site recognized as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH).
Wakefield saved her most eloquent remarks for last, closing with the following observation:
“I think a few years from now when the history is written about how the United States opened its doors to health care services in this country for more of its citizens, and how we here in the United States did the incredibly hard work of building a health care system that was accessible and affordable to everyone regardless of their zip code, or regardless of the balance in their bank account or regardless of the status of their health. I think when generations from now look back at what needed to be accomplished, and then what was accomplished, it is clear that your work will be recognized as having been absolutely central to these achievements.”
The teleforum call was one of 1,500 events taking place across the country. Stay tuned to this blog for more developments.