During the past year, Advocates for Community Health (ACH) has been working non-stop to elevate the urgent needs of community health centers and the more than 30 million patients they serve every year. As we celebrate our second anniversary, we thank our members and health center champions nationwide for their support and collaboration during this unprecedented time. Continue reading to learn more about some of our latest milestones
Expanding and Engaging our Members
Since last summer, not only has our membership doubled to represent 13 states, DC, and Puerto Rico, but we have also expanded our programming and engagement offerings to further empower health centers to fulfill their mission. In February, we held our second Annual Member Meeting in Washington, DC. The event featured Senate HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Associate Administrator of the Bureau of Primary Health Care at HRSA Jim Macrae, Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Health Workforce Luis Padilla, Special Assistant to the President Catherine Oakar, and many other federal leaders. In addition, health policy reporters from Axios, POLITICO, Bloomberg Government, and The Washington Post shared insights on news trends and how health centers can work with the media to share compelling stories to bolster advocacy efforts
Advocating for Bold Investments in Health Centers
Since launching our CHC Invest campaign in May 2022, we have doubled down on our efforts to secure increased funding for health centers. In March, ACH was honored to be invited to testify on behalf of health centers before the Senate HELP Committee in a hearing titled “Community Health Centers: Saving Lives, Saving Money.” At this hearing, ACH CEO Amanda Pears Kelly highlighted the critical need for not only a timely reauthorization of the CHC Trust Fund, but an increase in investment and long-term funding to address growing need and fiscal uncertainty. We also hosted a well-attended panel discussion on Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress and their staff on the need for bold investments in community health centers, titled “A Perfect Storm: Community Health Centers and the Fight to Protect Patient Care.” This event took place during our May Fly-In, where ACH members met with dozens of Congressional offices to discuss our funding asks and share our 340C proposal. This same week, ACH sent a letter signed by 140 national, state, and local organizations urging Congressional leaders to champion increased funding for health centers. Days after our letter was delivered, members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee confirmed they had come to a bipartisan agreement to increase health center funding by 5% for the next two years.
Introducing the Health Center Community Transformation Hub Act
ACH worked with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) to introduce the Health Center Community Transformation Hub Act, HR 1072, to provide supplemental grants to help health centers comprehensively address health inequities in the communities they serve. We are especially proud of this bill as it stands as a model to advance one of ACH’s key policy priorities, health equity, and builds on the vital role health centers play in advancing health equity every day. To announce the bill, ACH member Morris Heights Health Center’s (MHHC) hosted a press conference with Rep. Clarke, leaders from Sun River Health (another ACH member) and local providers, patients, and advocates.
ACH has worked continually to ensure health centers have access to the 340B program through our 340C proposal, which addresses concerning attacks on the program by creating a provision in the existing 340B program that would protect covered entities in exchange for transparency and accountability. ACH’s proposal has been well received on Capitol Hill, by HRSA, and among 340B stakeholders. 340C was entirely ACH member driven to ensure health center needs and priorities were at the core of the proposal. On July 24, ACH sent a letter signed by more than 100 national, state, and local organizations to Congress urging immediate action.
Advocating for Value-Based Care Models
Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and their Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center) developed and launched the new Making Care Primary (MCP) Model. This model leverages community-based connections to address patients’ health needs and their health-related social needs. We are encouraged to see this new MCP model come to fruition, especially as it is the result of more than a year of conversations between the CMS Innovation Center, ACH, and health equity stakeholders across the country. We are proud to see many of the recommendations from ACH’s Value-Based Care Working Group included in the model.
New Collaborations to Amplify Impact
Earlier this year, we launched a three-year plan in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare Community & State to empower health center leaders to drive change in their communities. We launched two initiatives that are part of our multi-year collaboration with UnitedHealthcare – the Community Health Entrepreneur Challenge, a $500,000 grant opportunity exclusively available to five ACH members, and Leadership Peer Learning Collaboratives targeted to value-based care and health center operations.
We also welcomed corporate member Quest Diagnostics, a generous sponsor of both our annual member meetings and programming partner. Additionally, ACH and Health Choice Network (HCN) are raising the collective voices of their members in pursuit of historical investments and innovative legislative solutions that will ensure that health centers can fulfill their mission.