The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has launched a new Health Center Advocacy Network and a website to support and advance the Community Health Center Movement and address the needs of health center patients and their communities. The move comes as the number of grassroots advocates for health centers has rocketed to 105,000 people. The network of health center advocates has grown steadily in recent years, as have the number of patients. The number of health center patients has increased by 42 percent since 2008. Health centers now serve 25 million people nationwide, or 1 in 13 Americans. Yet, the future growth of the program is uncertain. Health centers face a primary care funding cliff with a reduction of up to 70 percent if Congress fails to act before September 30th.
“It is critical that every Member of Congress hear from their constituents back home on the value and impact that health centers deliver in communities across the country,” said Ricardo Guzman, Chair of the NACHC Board. “We must raise our collective voices and make the case that we must protect and strengthen the health care system for health centers and their patients in a changing health care environment.”
Although health centers have enjoyed bipartisan support for more than 50 years, legislative proposals and the looming primary care funding cliff will affect the future stability of health centers and their ability to meet the demand for care. The federal investments that support the health center system must be sustained and stabilized to ensure access to care is not disrupted and that the cost savings health centers generate for taxpayers will continue. Especially critical to the advocacy effort are health center patients, or consumers, who not only depend on health centers for affordable care, but typically play leadership roles on individual health center governing boards. Health centers are locally run, and require a 51 percent patient majority on their boards to ensure resources are spent wisely and efficiently.
The Health Center Advocacy Network website features tools and information to help spread the word about the value of health centers, as well as blog with the most up-to-date information about the legislative proposals in Congress that will impact the future of health centers. To learn more about the Health Center Advocacy Network, or to sign up as a health center advocate, please visit www.hcadvocacy.org/.