Policy & Issues Forum 2019

May 07, 2019

From an office in Urbandale, Iowa, employees showed support of community health centers by wearing blue, while others met with congressional leaders in Washington, DC to advocate on behalf of the patients and communities health centers serve. Every year, advocates across the country meet with their Federal representatives on the Hill to discuss the importance of community health centers.

These meetings are a part of the Policy and Issues Forum put on by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Community health centers provide over 27 million individuals in underserved areas with quality, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare. Community health centers require reasonable funding to provide exceptional care to anyone who walks through their door.

“As we meet with lawmakers this week and throughout the year in our hometowns and states, let’s make sure every one of them understands our value and worth,” said Jim Luisi, the NACHC Board Chair. “Let us show that we are more than providers of care; we are innovators developing new and better approaches in the delivery of care and that we are problem-solvers, working with stakeholders and partners, helping to meet costly community health problems… Health centers were founded on a storied past, but represent the future of healthcare in America.”

This year community health centers are working to prevent a 70% reduction in funding which would be devastating to the health centers, their staff, and most importantly the communities that they serve. Iowa PCA staff along with staff from the community health centers in Iowa met with Members of Congress and their staff to address the negative effects that would come at the cost of this reduction in funding; a loss of access to healthcare for 35,000 Iowans, 500 jobs, and $25 million in funding.  

Iowa’s Members of Congress were responsive to the message and provided potential solutions that could increase access to healthcare to help Iowans overcome the barriers to quality health care.

Joe Lock, President, and CEO of Eastern Iowa Health Center said “the Iowa delegation attending the NACHC Policy & Issues Forum in Washington, DC this year definitely made a difference to our Iowa Senators and House Members.  The advocacy work we do here in the state is heard loud and clear by our elected officials. Once again, they eagerly accepted our requests to meet in person, and listened intently to our needs, wants and wishes.”

After meeting with the delegates from Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley signed the Senate Wicker-Stabenow Health Center Dear Colleague Letter and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, Congressman Dave Loebsack, and Congressman Steve King signed the House DeGette-Bilirakis Health Center Dear Colleague Letter in support of community health center. “We talked to them about the importance of community health centers being the heart of the safety net,” said Joe Lock. “The number of patients we serve, individually and collectively, are genuinely impressive to them—especially the growth we’ve seen in Medicaid over the past number of years. No matter which side of the aisle they are on, they understand our Iowa community health centers serve the underserved, uninsured, and most vulnerable among us with outstanding quality and unrivaled overall cost of care.