Emergency Preparedness Principles & Priorities

Advocates for Community Health supports a broad range of policy changes from lessons learned from the pandemic and decades of care provided during times of emergency to improve care delivery into the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic made health centers more vital as the nation grapples with economic insecurity and the severe implications of the pandemic across a broad spectrum of social determinants of health. Sadly, we’ve seen what the lack of funding can mean, and the disproportionate impact these failures can have on underserved communities and marginalized populations. While our ask is much less than we need to ensure millions of Americans have life-saving health care access, it can serve as foundational investment with proven record of return.

COVID-19 has had long-term impacts – both in patients who suffer lasting effects, as well as health centers who have had to change the way they care for their communities.

Our Emergency Preparedness Principles

CHCs play a unique role in bridging gaps between the healthcare system and marginalized communities and should be supported and incentivized to do this to the best of their ability.

Providers working in health centers face enormous challenges and should be protected and supported.

Health centers bear a disproportionate impact of emergencies compared to other major health care providers. Their reimbursement should reflect increased costs across care delivery during times of emergency.

To be prepared for inevitable emergencies, policymakers must prioritize support for health centers and their vital role in responding to local, state and national emergencies.

Our Emergency Preparedness Policy Priorities

Advance the Emergency Preparedness for Underserved Populations Act (to be introduced), to help community health centers conduct comprehensive emergency preparedness and response activities in their communities.

Continue to invest in health centers as culturally and linguistically adept messengers for vaccinations, testing, and treatment. Many patients will overcome vaccine hesitancy with time and information from a trusted source. The federal government should continue to maintain the federal allocation process for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as continued investment in FQHC staff for vaccine outreach and education.

Include health center patients in research related to long COVID. To fully understand the impacts of long COVID, the individuals participating in research must appropriately reflect impacted communities. NIH and other entities should ensure that research studies tracking the impact of long COVID include health center patients.

Enable comprehensive pediatric care for kids at risk based on clinical factors and social drivers of health. Delayed care in children has led to lower vaccination rates and higher rates of dangerous viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Support for community health centers to engage in targeted outreach and comprehensive care management to help kids and families catch up on necessary medical and behavioral health care.

Committed to community, with a visionary and innovative approach, our membership is leading the way in shaping the rapidly evolving health care landscape of the future. Learn more about our other policy priorities and our advocacy efforts.
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