Institute staff join community health advocates and elected officials for CHCANYS Advocacy Day in Albany

posted by

Serina Bernardo

Institute staff join community health advocates and elected officials for CHCANYS Advocacy Day in Albany

March 6, 2024

On March 4th, Institute staff gathered with other community health centers and the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS) to meet with legislators and their teams in Albany. Community health center advocates from across New York State joined together to connect with elected officials about the importance of federally qualified health centers (FQCHs), as well as the pressing issues FQCHs face.

Institute staff discussed our work in providing primary care, mental health, dental care, and social service to communities often in high need of these services. During the meetings with elected officials, Institute advocates emphasized important budget priorities that will support us in continuing to fulfill our mission of making high-quality care affordable and accessible to our patients. One of these budget priorities includes raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate for community health centers. The current health center reimbursement rates were set in 1999, and health centers’ operating costs are now significantly higher than they were 20 years ago. Other budget priorities discussed included telehealth pay parity, to ensure community health centers are paid their full rate for telehealth visits; and expanded investment in Patient Centered Medical Homes. Institute staff also advocated for elected officials to support Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal for medical assistants to administer vaccinations under supervision. Although many medical assistants are trained to administer vaccines through nationally credentialed programs, current New York legislation does not allow them to give vaccines.

Over 50 Institute employees attended Advocacy Day and met with a total of 20 legislators’ offices. Many of these advocates are community program leaders and healthcare providers who see first-hand the structural barriers our patients face in maintaining their health. We are grateful to our representatives for their continued support of community health centers and for listening to our experiences. We would like to especially thank the following elected officials and their staff for taking the time to meet with us: New York State Assemblymembers Didi Barrett (District 106), Michael Benedetto (District 82), Inez Dickens (District 70), Harvey Epstein (District 74), Edward Gibbs (District 68), Brian Maher (District 101),  Linda Rosenthal (District 67), Sarahana Shrestha (District 103), Jo Anne Simon (District 52) and Tony Simone (District 75); and New York State Senators Nathalia Fernandez (District 34), Andrew Gounardes (District 26), Michelle Hinchey (District 41), Brad Hoylman-Sigal (District 47), Brian Kavanaugh (District 27), Liz Krueger (District 28), Peter Oberacker (District 51), Gustavo Rivera (District 33), and José M. Serrano (District 29).