Like other Community Health Centers (CHCs), Hudson Headwaters Health Network is the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the recently-passed stimulus bill (the CARES Act) provided significant relief to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19, it fell short of addressing the needs of CHCs like Hudson Headwaters.
As our federal legislators begin to craft a fourth stimulus package, and as our state officials respond to the public health emergency affecting all corners of New York State, we could use your help. One way you can do this is by reaching out to your Congressional representatives and asking for their support.
We need Congress to help ensure that Community Health Centers across the country keep their doors open, respond to the surge and increasing demand for COVID-19 care, and prepare for the overwhelming need for primary care that will occur once this crisis is over.
You can also contact your state-level representatives ask them to reach out to New York’s Congressional Delegation urging them to push for the much needed federal investments listed below.
Below are some key points you can make when speaking with your representatives:
- Emergency Funding: At least $10 billion in emergency funding should be released immediately to offset revenue losses. This funding will enable CHCs to stay open and continue to provide needed primary care and COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, alleviating some of the pressure on overburdened hospitals.
- Long-Term Funding: Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in increased demand for essential primary care services. CHCs nationwide will need $50 billion to maintain current services and meet staffing needs, providing quality health care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
- Infrastructure Investments: There has not been any significant investment in primary care infrastructure for over ten years. At least $20 billion is needed to update facilities, to purchase or upgrade medical equipment, to implement technologies for integrated care (including virtual and telehealth visits), and to plan for the next public health emergency.
- Telehealth: The CARES Act gave health centers some reimbursement for providing telehealth services to Medicare patients in their homes. However, this approval is temporary, and the rates are insufficient. The next stimulus package should make this approval permanent and ensure that payments for telehealth visits are consistent with the current Medicare and Medicaid policy.
- Pharmacy Services: Legislation is needed to protect health centers’ ability to retain savings on drugs dispensed to Medicaid Managed Care patients.
Most of you have probably interacted with your state- and federal-level legislators before. However, here are additional tips for effective communication with legislators and their staff:
- Identify yourself as a constituent and as a voter.
- Be courteous. Be friendly, factual, and professional, even if complaining. Additionally, make sure you speak clearly and slowly as they are often taking notes.
- Be specific about what you are asking them to do. Where possible, use facts and figures to stay on message.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
This same approach is also applicable to any written or electronic communication. You want any letter or email to be short and to the point, usually one page. If possible, use formatting tricks like bullets, bold lettering, and underlining to highlight the relevant information you are trying to convey.