Partnering to Promote Voter Registration and Education
=”214″ height=”300″ />Guest blog post by Joel Torrez, Jr., Health Policy Manager for The Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers, and a NACHC Advocacy Leadership Program participant.
The Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers (the Coalition) is a consortium of safety net providers and key partners creating quality healthcare for vulnerable, underserved communities. The Coalition was founded in 1974 as a non-profit organization designed to support and strengthen Orange County’s network of licensed community clinics. For 38 years, the Coalition has served as a membership organization for freestanding, mobile community based non-profit clinics offering a forum in which clinic leaders can share ideas and concerns, as well as advocate for America’s Health Centers, Community Clinics and their patients.
America’s Health Centers are special places. They provide care to over 20 million people offering health care services at little to no cost to their patients. Initially named neighborhood health centers, these clinics were founded in 1965 by the federal government. Health Centers provide health and social services access points in poor and medically underserved communities and promote community empowerment. Every year Congress is faced with the difficult task of funding community health centers and year to year funding amounts change. Health Center funding is not guaranteed which is why it is important that health center patients and staff, community members and voters alike do everything they can to ensure that health centers are funded without any reductions.
Every Health Center is located in a medically underserved area which means; historically, health services have lacked in the particular communities they are located in and health disparities are high. One important way to ensure that America’s Health Centers are able to continue providing the much needed health care services they offer is to provide non-partisan education for patients and staff on the importance of voting. Health Center patients and staff members should always feel free to reach out to their Member of Congress and let them know that they appreciate the services that they receive or provide in their communities.
Congress does not always agree on funding priorities which is why your Member of Congress needs to hear from you. Nothing carries more weight in gold than letting your Member of Congress know that you are a registered voter. In California, the Coalition has made voter registration a priority. They teamed up with the California Secretary of State’s Office to ensure that clinics, patients and staff know that they have the power to make a difference. The Coalition’s Health Policy Manager, Joel Torrez, has made sure that every person who visits the Coalition’s website has access to non-partisan resources and information, including voter registration deadlines and polling locations, available in three languages. More so, the Coalition through the support of its members, patients and staff will launch a voter registration campaign in Orange County. With non-partisan information readily available to patients, clinic members and staff, the Coalition along with the Secretary of State’s Office will empower voters by linking them directly to the resources voters need.
The Coalition’s website is http://www.coccc.org/index.htm. Click on the Health Policy link to see how you can make your website more powerful through the use of simple tools such as voter registration links that offer non-partisan information in several languages. You too can make sure that America’s Health Center program remains viable today and tomorrow. Use your voice and use your vote to make a difference in your community. Register to vote today! You have the power to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.