Despite an abundance of rain and snow that fell across Michigan earlier this week, advocates from Michigan Health Centers convened in downtown Lansing on February 27th to talk with state legislators about the value of Health Centers, the benefits of Medicaid expansion, the need to improve Michigan’s primary care workforce policies and to create capacity for community support professionals. It was a busy day of legislative meetings!
Meeting face-to-face with elected officials is THE most effective way to educate them about the tremendous resource that Health Centers are in the communities they represent, to influence policy decisions, and to build and nurture relationships.
The legislative meetings that took place on February 27th were especially important and timely as the Michigan Legislature is in the midst of the fiscal year 2014 budget process and state Senators and Representatives are considering Governor Snyder’s recommendation to expand Michigan’s Medicaid Program. As Representative Matt Lori said, “Medicaid expansion isn’t a done deal, but we are hopeful we will get there.”
“Moving forward, it is necessary that Michigan continue to preserve and strengthen its Medicaid program, and MPCA urges the state legislature to appropriate funding in the fiscal year 2014 budget for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” said Kim Sibilsky, MPCA Executive Director. “It is also paramount that adequate funding be maintained for the programs that improve the quantity and geographic distribution of primary care providers in underserved areas across the state.”
During the Forum MPCA honored Representative Lori and Senator John Moolenaar, chairs of the Health Appropriations Subcommittee in their respective chambers, as Champions for the Medically Underserved. Both were instrumental during last year’s budget process in protecting the integrity of the Medicaid program and ensuring there is adequate funding for the State Loan Repayment Program and Graduate Medical Education.
Discussions during the day also focused on the impending sequester scheduled to take effect March 1, and the impact it may have on Health Centers. Roger Schwartz, JD, Associate Vice President, Executive Branch Liaison at the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) stressed the critical importance of Health Center advocates contacting their Members of Congress BEFORE MARCH 1 so they understand the need to ensure adequate funding for the Health Centers Program when they make critical funding decisions in March. Call your Members of Congress using the toll-free Advocacy Hotline at 1.866.456.3949, and email them in response to NACHC’s action alert.
Here are other steps advocates can take today and moving forward to be voices for their local Health Center and the patients it serves:
1) Continue to visit the Expand Medicaid page on the MPCA website for up-to-date information, resources, and tools you can use to advocate for expansion in Michigan.
2) Click here to ensure you are registered as a Michigan Health Center advocate and be ready to take action in support of MPCA’s 2013 policy priorities when you are asked to do so.
3) Click here (scroll to the bottom of the page) to subscribe to the MPCA eUpdate (if you aren’t subscribed already) so you will receive the most up-to-date information in your email inbox every Friday about news and happenings impacting Michigan Health Centers.
4) Mark your calendar to participate in a tele-forum conference call that NACHC is hosting next Friday, March 8, to learn more about the impact of the sequester on Health Centers. NACHC will be sending more information to Health Center advocates next week – click here to be sure you are signed up to receive emails and the weekly “Washington Update” e-newsletter from NACHC.
5) Register to attend NACHC’s Policy & Issues Forum in Washington, DC, on March 20-23, 2013, to meet with your Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
6) Invite your state legislators and Members of Congress to visit your Health Center so they can see first-hand how Health Centers are different from other health care providers, not only in the delivery of comprehensive and coordinated care, but also in creating jobs and boosting the local economy and saving the health care system money. Please contact Doug Paterson at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know when you’ve scheduled a visit, and if you would like help in extending an invitation to your elected officials and/or you would like an MPCA staff member to attend the visit.
Health Centers need your voice today and moving forward!