Institute Staff join elected officials for CHCANYS Virtual Advocacy Week to #valueCHCs
From March 7-11, Institute staff members gathered online to meet with elected state representatives for the annual advocacy outreach event led by the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS). Thirty-four Institute staff members met with eighteen elected officials in the State Senate and Assembly, joining other health center staff across the state in connecting with representatives.
During the meetings, advocates discussed budget priorities that are necessary to help community health centers fulfill our mission of providing affordable, accessible and high-quality care to our communities. An important topic was how to make telehealth services sustainable in the long term, including the need for pay parity for telehealth visits and the ability to invest in the technology and infrastructure needed to continue to provide quality services remotely. Advocates also mentioned the importance of allowing medical assistants to give immunizations and assist in COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinics, a task that medical assistants are trained to do but would require a change in New York State regulation. Other topics covered included funding for the 340B pharmacy benefit, expanded health care access for the uninsured, and support for workforce development programs such as Doctors Across New York and the Diversity in Medicine Program.
In every meeting, a recurring theme was the enormous role community health centers have played during the COVID-19 crisis. Our providers have been on the front lines of treatment, testing and vaccination, while also providing all the necessary routine care to our patients and communities. The Institute for Family Health is grateful to the elected officials and their staff for taking the time to meet with us.
“Advocacy Week gives us an important platform to share the issues facing our community health centers,” said Jeanne Thelwell, a longtime Institute board member who participated in Advocacy Week. “We are very grateful to the elected officials who took the time to meet with us and are pleased that so many of them supported our concerns.”
“Like many of my colleagues in the health centers, I see the challenges that my patients face each day as they work to stay healthy,” said Dr. Eugene Schiff, a physician at Stevenson Family Health Center, who participated in Advocacy Week. “I am grateful to our elected officials for meeting with us and listening to the experiences of front-line health care providers.”
We would like to thank the following elected officials for taking the time to meet with us: New York State Assembly Members Jo Anne Simon (District 52), Edward Gibbs (District 68), Daniel O’Donnell (District 69), Harvey Epstein (District 74), Richard Gottfried (District 75), Michael R. Benedetto (District 82), Yudelka Tapia (District 86), Brian D. Miller (District 101), Kevin Cahill (District 103); and New York State Senators Jabari Brisport (District 25), Brad M. Hoylman (District 27), José M. Serrano (District 29), Cordell Cleare (District 30), Luis Sepúlveda (District 32), Gustavo Rivera (District 33), Alessandra Biaggi (District 34), Sue J. Serino (District 41), Mike Martucci (District 42), and Michelle Hinchey (District 46).