As Michigan Primary Care Association gears up for its annual Legislative Forum to be held in Lansing on March 8, we at the Association are optimistic that Community Health Center advocates can and will make a difference in 2011. With so many issues at stake that impact Community Health Centers, NOW more than ever is the time to mobilize, voice our opinions, and help shape the future of this state.
MPCA’s Legislative Forum is an annual opportunity to convene together in the State’s Capitol to learn about the current legislative environment as it pertains to Community Health Centers; educate our elected officials about the issues that most affect Community Health Centers, their patients, and their communities; and develop or continue to nurture relationships. The number one most effective form of communicating with legislators is a one-on-one visit. Yes, e-mailing and calling them about an issue or piece of legislation is important, but it’s the personal visit where they can see a constituent’s face, hear his or her story first-hand that can leave a lasting impression.
It is important to remember that it takes time to nurture relationships with your legislators. I have been fortunate to participate in visits with Community Health Center staff members, board members, and patients who have developed friendships with their elected officials over the years. It is friendship and true respect for each other that bridges the divide between citizen and elected official, opens ears and eyes, and provides opportunities for teachable moments. Community Health Center staff members, board members, and patients are, after all, experts in all that is Community Health Centers and how they provide access to care for those who might otherwise go without, while saving money and reducing use of the emergency room.
So if you already have a relationship with your State Senator and/or Representative, use this year’s MPCA Legislative Forum as an opportunity to make it stronger. If you don’t know your elected officials on a more personal level, then attend Legislative Forum to lay the foundation for new friendships.
We hope to see you on March 8 – click here for the agenda and registration information.