On Monday, March 2, more than 600 advocates - patients, staff and board members from community health centers across New York State - joined CHCANYS in Albany to meet with elected officials and stress the importance of increased financial and capital investment in community-based safety net providers, including FQHCs, whose work is integral to the State's current health care delivery system reform efforts. Without this funding, the financial viability of health centers will be severely impacted at a time when the State should be supporting the expansion of the primary care safety net in furtherance of its own goals.
"We are a family - one that believes health care is a right, not a privilege," Larry McReynolds, chair of the CHCANYS Board of Directors, told the assembled group. "You are putting a face to the words 'community health center,' and it's that personal connection with our elected officials that makes the difference." He followed up his remarks by leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to the community health center movement, which celebrates 50 years in 2015.
The morning program included moving testimonials from Tina Goodrich, a consumer board member from The Institute for Family Health, and Rita Chambliss, a patient from Hometown Health Center who said, "I turned to my local health center to find a provider I could trust, and that's exactly what happened."
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried congratulated the overflow crowd for breaking an Advocacy Day attendance record, noting "I have been a fan of our health centers for a long time. Standing here, I feel like I am among friends."
A number of policymakers also addressed the group, including Courtney Burke, NYS Deputy Secretary for Health, Jason Helgerson, NYS Medicaid Director, and Dan Sheppard, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management. Each reinforced the importance of FQHCs as a source of high quality care for the state's most vulnerable populations.
A big thank you to all of the advocates who woke up early and braved the wintery weather to participate in this year's event.
Click here to view CHCANYS' 2015 legislative priorities. Click here to read the Advocacy Day 2015 media release.