The Community Health Center Movement
The Community Health Center movement began more than 50 years ago with a single clinic in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Today, health centers provide quality, affordable health care to more than 25 million people across the United States. Wisconsin’s 18 Community Health Centers serve over 300,000 patients annually and employ more than 2,300 individuals. We strive to be recognized as leaders in primary health care delivery and aim to develop and maintain bipartisan legislative champions to support both state and federal funding. Grassroots advocates are critical to ensuring policymakers understand the local impact of health centers in our community.
Because Community Health Centers are funded and regulated by federal and state laws, our survival and growth depends on more than the good work we do. It depends on advocates to speak up and champion our cause. Priorities shift depending upon fluctuating political climates, proposed budgets and legislative policy.
Current priorities include:
- Avoiding the Health Center Funding Cliff: Without action by Congress before September 30th, health centers will face a devastating 70% cut in federal grant funds. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that this “funding cliff” will lead to closure of 2,800 health center sites, 51,000 layoffs of clinicians and other personnel, and a loss of access to care for more than 9 million patients nationwide.
- Maintaining a Strong Workforce: Similar to Health Center funding, without action by Congress, funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Teaching Health Center programs will expire. This would immediately jeopardize the care provided by more than 10,000 NHSC clinicians, and reverse progress on a bipartisan move toward community-based training.
- Supporting Medicaid: A strong Medicaid program is critical for health centers and their patients. Any change to the Medicaid system must ensure both coverage and continuity of access to care for health center patients. In addition, policymakers must continue to incentivize the integrated, comprehensive and high quality primary and preventive care that health centers provide.
Communicating with elected officials is only one part of advocacy. Educating our community, soliciting positive media attention and registering people to vote are all essential elements of
In addition, advocates aim to:
- Recruit new Community Health Center supporters;
- Participate in advocacy-related activities, such as making a phone call to a legislative office,
responding to an online Action Alert, leading a health center tour, or writing a letter to the editor;
- Participate in legislative activities, such as open meetings and town hall forums; and
- Introduce elected officials to community health centers in their area.
SIGN UP to be a Health Center Advocate and you will receive timely updates about issues or legislation impacting your local Community Health Center and access to health care. Action Alerts will allow you to easily contact your elected officials to voice your opinion about important issues. Be sure to list Progressive Community Health Centers as your health center connection so we can stay in touch with you, too!