Health Center Leaders Gather at White House for Policy Discussion on Primary Health Care
Washington, D.C. - Last week, more than 120 representatives of Community Health Centers and State Primary Care Associations were invited-to attend a meeting at the White House with members of the Obama Administration to discuss quality and policy issues that affect care at America's Health Centers. The meeting was led by Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
During the meeting, Dr. Wakefield and a panel of health center representatives discussed the challenges facing health centers as they attempt to expand their care and improve its quality for the 20 million people they serve today.
Highlights of the issues discussed include:
- The need to expand health care access in communities waiting for care (about 1,800 communities have submitted applications for new or expanded health centers that remain unfunded).
- The vital importance of adequate payment for cost of care, as the uninsured and underinsured population at health centers continues to grow.
- How health centers’ use of the patient centered medical home model is improving the quality of the primary health care they deliver.
"We are pleased that the Obama Administration reached out to speak with people on the front lines of health care, whose daily work is to improve both access and quality, and thus control costs in the American health care system," said Dr. Gary Wiltz, MD, CEO of Teche Action Clinic in Franklin, Louisiana and Board Chair-Elect of the National Association of Community Health Centers. "Community Health Centers stand ready to work closely with the White House and bipartisan leaders in Congress to build a stronger primary care foundation that will be crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act and its extension of insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, slated to begin late next year."
The health center representatives on the panel included:
- Dr. Gary Wiltz, MD, CEO of Teche Action Clinic in Franklin, Louisiana and Board Chair-Elect of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC);
- Dan Driscoll, MA, CEO of Harbor Health Services, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts;
- Carmella Castellano, Esq., CEO of the California Primary Care Association; and
- Dr. Lee Francis, MD, MPH, CEO of Erie Family Health Center, Inc., in Chicago, Illinois.
Community Health Centers serve as the health care homes to over 20 million people in more than 8,000 communities. Each year they save more than $1,200 per patient in total health care costs, and achieve $24 billion in annual savings from reduced emergency room visits, hospital stays and specialty care costs, including $6 billion in combined state/federal Medicaid savings. With demand for health centers growing among the medically underserved and uninsured, local, state, and national support for initiatives that support and strengthen their mission is critical – now more than ever.
Founded in 1970, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and expand access to quality, community-responsive health care for America’s medically underserved and uninsured. NACHC represents the nation’s network of over 1,200 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which serve over 20 million people through over 8,000 sites located in all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.
* PHOTO Caption: Jerry Brasher, CEO, Salud Family Health Centers and Anita Monoian CEO, Yakima Neighborhood Health Services and past Board Chair of NACHC at the White House meeting.