Michigan Advocates Step Up to Save CHCs

With the Super Committee’s deadline of passing a deficit reduction proposal on November 23 getting ever closer, Michigan Community Health Centers stepped up their grassroots advocacy efforts this week. Advocates called and messaged Congressmen Dave Camp (R-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) – two members of the Super Committee – on Thursday to tell them to protect Health Center funding and preserve Medicaid, the program most vital to Health Centers’ viability and to many patients.

To amplify that message, Michigan Health Centers collected over 5,500 signatures and personal letters (and still counting) from patients, staff, board members, and community residents.

Dr. Brenda Coughlin (left) and Monica Woods (right) hosted State Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes for a tour of Health Delivery, Inc. and handed over patient petition signatures in support of the Health Center.

“The signatures we collected show in a very concrete way how much our patients and the community value our local Health Centers for the quality, affordable, and cost-effective health care they provide, regardless of insurance status or income level,” said Monica Woods, Public Relations Manager, Health Delivery, Inc.

Health Delivery, Inc. delivered 1,150 signatures to Congressman  Camp’s district office on Thursday, and shared them with Chris Hennessy, Regional Representative for  Senator Debbie Stabenow, when he toured the David R. Gamez Community Health Center earlier in the week. They also presented them to State Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes who visited on Monday as well.

Family Health Center, Inc. staff hand delivered signatures and letters to Congressman Upton's Kalamazoo office on November 10

Family Health Center, Inc. staff hand delivered signatures and letters to Congressman Upton's Kalamazoo office on November 10.

A combined total of 469 signatures and personal letters were hand delivered to Congressman Upton’s district offices in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph, Michigan, by Family Health Center, Inc. and Cassopolis Family Clinic. The St. Joseph district office shared that the petitions they received were scanned and forwarded to the Congressman’s Washington, DC, office.

Ingham County Community Health Centers’ signature and letter delivery to the district offices of Congressman Mike Rogers and Senator Stabenow received local media attention and earned a spot on the evening news of Lansing’s WILX-Channel 10 and WLNS-Channel 6.

Advantage Health Centers' Executive Joe Ferguson hand delivered petition signatures to Congressman Clarke's district office.

Advantage Health Centers’ Executive Director Joe Ferguson delivered 460 signatures of patients and staff to Congressman Hansen Clarke’s district office on Thursday. The Wellness Plan Medical Centers, which also provides care to constituents in Congressman Clarke’s district, collected over 200 signatures.

“I feel the 500-plus signatures Muskegon Family Care collected send a very powerful message, and I am proud of the participation Muskegon Family Care patients stepped up to give,” said Sheila Bridges, Muskegon Family Care Chief Executive Officer, who hand delivered the signatures to Congressman Bill Huizenga’s district office.

Other Michigan Health Centers that participated in the National Petition & Letter Drive spearheaded by the Campaign for America’s Health Centers (a NACHC project) were Covenant Community Care, East Jordan Family Health Center, Baldwin Family Health Care, Family Medical Center of Michigan, and Detroit Community Health Connection.

To further broadcast the message, “protect Health Centers, preserve Medicaid,” Michigan Health Centers submitted press releases, op-eds, and letters to the editor of media outlets across the state, such as as in the Niles Daily Star and The Herald-Palladium.

Yes, it has been a very busy grassroots advocacy week for Michigan Health Centers. Michigan Primary Care Association thanks everyone who made calls, encouraged others to make calls, tweeted and posted messages on Facebook, collected and delivered petition signatures and letters of support, and reached out to the media. It is amazing to watch so many voices come together to send one loud, clear message on behalf of America’s Health Centers that serve 20 million people across the country, keep patients healthy, save the health care system $24 billion every year, and create thousands of jobs from coast to coast. We can make a difference, and we will continue to fight for our Health Centers.

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