The NACHC 2017 Community Health Institute and EXPO is winding down in sunny San Diego. Despite a late night at the Uncorked and Uncapped Live party, education sessions started early at 8:30 am. Attendees hastily finished their fill-in-the-blank poster scavenger hunt forms to win prizes. And, speaking of the poster sessions, there were over 70 poster presentations, sponsored by Blackbaud. This year’s poster winners include:
- 1st place for Innovations goes to Cheryl Adams of Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Kentucky for their work on “Making a Difference in Diabetes Control.”
- 1st place for Research goes to Lisa Mueller and her team at Primary One Health in Ohio for their work on “Impact of Pharmacist-Provided Spirometry Service on Access to Results in a Primary Care Setting.”
- 2nd place for Innovations goes to Parminder Bajwa of Primary One Health in Ohio for their work on “Bringing Community Partners Together to Address Unspoken Realities of Chronic Disease, Diabetes, and Food Insecurity.”
- 2nd place for Research goes to Tiffany Mitchell of Riverstone Health in Montana for their work on “Effect of Mailing FIT Tests Directly to Patients on Provider Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates.”
- 3rd place for Innovations goes to Regina Lee of Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York for their work on “Building Hospital-Community Partnerships to Reduce Smoking: Challenges and Opportunities.”
- 3rd place for Research goes to Matthew Chin, also of Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York, for their work on “Assessing Chinese Adolescent Risk Behavior at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.”
Tuesday’s General Session also included a wealth of information about the health care landscape. Eliot Fishman, Senior Director of Health Policy at Families USA, provided an overview about multiple simultaneous threats to Medicaid, with emerging marketplace waivers in states that, in a variety of ways, chip away at funding, eligibility, and access to people who need coverage. Families USA created a State Waiver Resource and Tracking Center to monitor these trends.
Jim Macrae, Associate Administrator, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), offered up a wealth of information about resources for health centers, including a new compliance manual that is a “one-stop-shop” streamlined resource on Health Center Program requirements. Macrae noted that the manual eliminates 12 Policy Information Notices and Program Assistance Letters and “reduces by half what we are asking people to look at” in terms of program requirements. And, speaking of requirements, Macrae also said that HRSA is moving from 19 program requirements to 18 and will “continue to identify areas of flexibility to figure out what is best for your patients and community.”
Macrae also touted the increasingly large footprint health centers are making in terms of impact, now reaching 1 in 12 people in the U.S. and serving 1 in 6 people in rural areas. Forty percent of health centers are also using telehealth to reach more patients, and Macrae urged health center leaders to continue to think creatively about expanding the health center footprint to reach more communities in need. He also said HRSA will be prioritizing ways to strengthen health center capacity to respond to emergency public health threats, such as Zika and Hurricane Harvey. He also said that more funding will be made available to health centers next month to boost their efforts in responding to substance abuse and addiction.
The health center funding cliff was also highlighted repeatedly in General Session remarks as an immediate threat to health centers. As NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden noted in the most recent action alert, “There are only 12 working legislative days in the House, and 17 in the Senate – time is running out. Without sufficient pressure from advocates at home, we are concerned that Congress will not address the cliff by the end of the Fiscal Year, or that they will undertake a very short-term extension of funding until December. Both of these scenarios have major negative implications for the stability of the nationwide Health Center network – which today cares for more than 27 million patients.”
With that in mind, health center leaders will have to roll up their sleeves when they go home and prepare to make their case to lawmakers.