Community Health Centers in Washington State are joining together in a variety of ways to make a point about the value of health centers and the sad fact that state funding cuts that would make care for residents more expensive and hurt underserved populations across the state. In Yakima the effort drew notice from the local news:
About 100 people symbolically crowded into local hospital emergency rooms… hoping to point out that cuts to community health clinics would unfairly send more Yakima Valley residents to ERs where care is more expensive.
…three Community Health Centers — the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Yakima Neighborhood Health Services and Community Health of Central Washington — rallied their staffs and patients to show what it would look like if people who depend on those centers had to instead go to one of Yakima’s two hospital emergency rooms for care.
“Now more than ever, it’s essential that people have access to the right care at the right time and the right place,” Dr. Mike Maples, CEO of Community Health of Central Washington, told the crowd.
According to the article in the Yakima Herald Republic about the rally, current budget proposals in Washington State include the “elimination of the Basic Health Plan, the state subsidized health-care plan and Disability Lifeline, which provides medical assistance to disabled people with chronic conditions. Also slated for cuts are free or reduced-cost health-care programs for children like Apple Health for Kids, which was greatly expanded under [Washington Governor Christine] Gregoire to cover families above the poverty level of $22,350 for a family of four.”
Talking Directly to Lawmakers
One person who finally managed to address the budget cuts was Ned Hammar, a family practice doctor at the Okanogan Community Health Center. He said the proposed cuts would be “devastating” to the center, which serves about 10,000 people from the surrounding counties. We’re sacrificing our future,” he said. “We’re giving up on a generation of our kids.”
Sharing the Value of Community Health Centers with the Public
The Daily News in Longview, Washington, has a wonderful profile of patients, administrators and providers at the Cowlitz Family Health Center. Be sure to check it out, as the reporter offered great context about the value a health center brings to people in the community.
NACHC Follows CHC State Funding Closely
Be sure to check out the forthcoming issue of Community Health Forum Magazine, which contains more details about state funding levels.