The year 2016 started with NACHC’s efforts to reach out across multimedia channels and share the compelling success of Community Health Centers. We began our podcast series to showcase how health centers innovate, save health care costs, attract bipartisan support and confront the emerging public health crises of our times. The podcasts help listeners gain insight from the frontline perspective about how health centers solve problems in their community — problems that so often are linked to preventable illnesses and chronic disease. We featured a health center mobile van that is fighting an epidemic of tooth decay among children in Nevada, AIDS/HIV prevention in rural Iowa, and dealing with opioid addiction in West Virginia. These are our stories.
Health centers were also widely featured in the news media on various fronts. Here is a breakdown of the year’s highlights:
An overwhelmingly bipartisan coalition of House and Senate lawmakers called on key subcommittee chairs “to recognize health centers as providers of high quality, cost-effective primary care” and to ensure continued funding for a model of care that offers a “bipartisan solution to the primary care access problems” facing the U.S. In an otherwise politically contentious election season, health centers drew a rare consensus on Capitol Hill as a successful health care solution [see NACHC release]. The media paid attention.
“I doubt there is any program that has delivered more in terms of saving both lives and taxpayer dollars over the course of over the last half century.”
Ricardo Guzman, NACHC Board Chair, The Hill newspaper, November 4, 2016
“Health centers treat patients for a fraction of the cost of one emergency room visit. Health centers not only focus on illness prevention, they reach beyond the walls of the exam room to address the factors that actually cause poor health, such as homelessness, lack of nutrition, stress or unemployment. They are innovators in treating chronic conditions that are typically ignored until they become a costly illness.”
NACHC CEO and President Tom Van Coverden, The Pulse, a blog published by the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, August 3, 2016
It was easy to make the case for supporting health centers because of their longstanding record of cost-savings, as evidenced by the published release of a landmark report on Medicaid savings at health centers (“Health Centers Save Medicaid 24 Percent, Health Leaders Media“).
The critical role that health centers play in addressing emerging public health threats, such as Zika, opioid addiction, and contaminated water in Flint, MI, was also under the spotlight, as was their role in caring for growing numbers of veterans (see NACHC release). In fact, new data showed that the number of health center patients who are veterans grew by 43 percent in less than a decade (from 2008 to 2015) to 305,000 from 214,000. Nearly 9 in 10 health centers serve veterans, who are able to access a wide range of services in addition to primary care.
Health center challenges in recruiting and retaining the workforce needed to meet the demand for care was also widely featured in the media:
“CHCs also innovate to recruit and retain staff members, especially family physicians. In an examination of recruitment needs at CHCs across the country, the NACHC report showed that family physicians are in greatest demand. Nearly 70 percent of CHCs had an open position for a family physician and 51 percent said their highest priority vacancy was for a family physician. Salary was ranked as the largest obstacle to recruitment and retention.”
AAFP News Now, March 23, 2016
Health centers also continued to prove they are innovators in health care. From embracing health information technology to integrating behavioral health care in order to provide patient centered care, health centers stood out.
“This week, let us thank the dedicated professionals in our Community Health Centers who provide quality care at affordable prices. Let us build on their efforts to improve the well-being of our people and together continue working to bring about a stronger, healthier Nation for all.”-President Barack Obama, National Health Center Week 2016 White House Proclamation.
We look forward to sharing the successes of 2017 in this blog. Stay tuned!