Congressional Community Health Centers Caucuses
The first Congressional Health Centers Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives as a venue for Members of Congress to identify themselves as health center supporters, educate their colleagues on the importance of health centers, share information on health center priorities, and champion the Health Center Program. After more than a decade of success in the House, the Senate followed suit, establishing a complementary caucus in 2012.
From their inception, the caucuses have been bipartisan. The Senate Caucus was founded by current caucus co-chairs Tom Carper (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Boozman (R-AR). The House Caucus is currently co-chaired by Representatives Mike Capuano (D-MA), Kay Granger (R-TX), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), and Danny Davis (D-IL). Under the direction of this group of health center champions, the caucuses work to elevate health center issues in Congress, educate and inform other Members of Congress and their staffs of the benefits of health centers, and bolster efforts to advocate for policies that promote and support health centers nationwide.
Joining the Caucus is a great way for Members of Congress to stay apprised of any legislative efforts that could impact the health centers in their district. For health center advocates, increasing the number of Community Health Center Caucus members is a key way to demonstrate broad bipartisan support for health centers. The caucuses are always seeking new members. To find out if your Member of Congress is on the caucus, take a look at the list of current Community Health Center Caucus membership:
For over 50 years, Community Health Centers have proudly served anyone who needs care, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, including the brave men and women who served in our armed forces. In communities throughout the country, health centers have forged successful partnerships with local Veterans Affairs (VA) providers to ensure more veterans have timely access to primary care, especially in rural areas and communities where doctors are scarce. Indeed, according to the most recent data available, Community Health Centers provided care to more than a quarter of a million veterans across the country in 2013. Health centers were specifically included in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 as a provider option for veterans who were experiencing barriers or delays in accessing primary care. While the new working relationships authorized through this law are temporary, we hope that they will serve as a foundation for even stronger partnerships between health centers and the VA in the future.
Health Information Technology (HIT) and Telehealth
Telehealth is an essential component of improving access to quality care for underserved populations in rural and urban areas alike. NACHC is working to build off of the innovative and successful telehealth programs currently being implemented at Community Health Centers across the country by encouraging Congress to adopt policies that support implementation and reimbursement for telehealth.
NACHC is also working to help ensure that health centers can continue to invest time and resources into HIT adoption and are able to remain in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs. In January 2015, NACHC officially endorsed H.R. 270, the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Ron Kind (D-WI) that would direct the Secretary of HHS to shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period from one year to 90 days. On Friday, April 10, 2015, in response to mounting pressure from stakeholders and Congress, CMS proposed a regulation that would modify Meaningful Use requirements by shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days.
Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse
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Senate Moving Forward with Zika Package, Blog May 2016