From the CEO's Desk
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Section: Spotlight Articles, February 2017

“Over the next two years, community health centers in our state will most likely reach new milestones in providing care to Tennesseans. As we approach 40 years as an Association, we will confront new challenges and set new goals, and we will continue to work together to continue improving access and outcomes for our patients and the communities we serve.”

Those were the words of Phillip Tatum, chief executive officer of Three Rivers Community Health Group, as he stepped into his new role as president of the Tennessee Primary Care Association board of directors.  Community Health Centers are committed to continuing to grow and serve our patients and communities. One of the most effective ways to achieve this vision for the future is by making our voices heard.

On February 15, health center leaders from across Tennessee gathered at the state capitol to ensure that lawmakers are aware of the important work and contributions made by health centers. In 2015, our member organizations served 369,445 Tennesseans and employed more than 2,350 full-time staff members. In just a few hours, health center leaders held 40 meetings with state legislators providing them with information that we hope will help inform their policy and funding decisions during this legislative session.

In March, Tennessee health center leaders will take that same message to Washington, D.C., and Tennessee’s Congressional delegation there. As questions continue to surround the future of the Affordable Care Act and health center funding nationwide, there is one thing we will continue to emphasize: Community Health Centers will remain dedicated to providing quality, affordable health care to those who might not otherwise have access.

Even during these time of sharp division in Congress, Community Health Centers have unwavering bi-partisan support. A recent article in the publication Roll Call, written by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, (South Dakota) and former Health and Human Services Secretary and three-term Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, expounds on the many benefits of Community Health Centers. The article, Ensuring an Ongoing Return on Health Care Investment, urges Congress  to "consider a health care network that works - community health centers."  They assert that, "While there is no simple fix, community health centers are one health care solution that can help us achieve a high-performing, high-quality, and cost-efficient health care system - goals with which we can all agree. Now is the time to simply make a commitment to reinforce and grow this nationwide network that already exists, and that, time and again, has produced a positive return on our country's health care investment.” 

A central part of TPCA’s mission is to serve as the voice of Community Health Centers. That voice is strongest when our voices unite. I encourage you to stay informed, speak up and be a part of continuing the community health center legacy. The National Association of Community Health Centers has launched its new Health Care Advocacy Network. If you have not already done so, please visit their website to learn more about how all of us, working together, can make a difference.

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