Each week, the CFAHC blog will feature Access All-Stars from each state who exemplify stellar advocacy action and commitment to grassroots advocacy efforts as part of the Access is the Answer Campaign. This week, we learn about the excellent work of our All-Stars from the state of Alaska. The advocates listed below played a crucial role in the effort to fix the cliff by providing advocacy leadership in their communities and effectively communicating the value of Health Centers to lawmakers and beyond.
Alaska’s Access All-Stars
Executive Director of Seward Community Health Center
When Patrick heard about the Health Center Funding Cliff, he knew he had to act. Patrick began by sharing information on the potentially devastating 70% cut in federal funding that would have hit all Health Centers on October 1 of this year with his Board Members. From there, he worked to identify other key individuals at Seward whose voices would be impactful, and encouraged them to reach out to Congress and the community and carry the Health Center message. Patrick also personally sent messages to Members of Congress and state officials, sharing his story and the impact the cliff would have on his Health Center, and received a positive response—many agreeing to support continued funding for the Community Health Center Program. Recognizing the value of support from local elected officials, Patrick also leveraged his relationship with Seward’s Mayor, working to prep her before her trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with Alaska’s Congressional delegation about the cliff. The bottom line: Patrick recognized the need to take action and effectively engaged a diverse set of voices and resources to help make the case for fixing the cliff and ongoing support for his health center.
Staff at PCHSAK reached out to their Members of Congress throughout the spring to urge their support for Health Center funding through the passage of H.R. 2, the Medicaid and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. One of Peninsula’s Board Member, Ellen Adlam, who is particularly active and engaged with federal policy issues, made a point of constantly reminding folks at PCHSAK of the importance of advocating for Health Centers. Taking this effort a step further, Ellen went out in the community and to other CHCs to talk about the Health Center Funding Cliff and the value Health Centers add to the community, encouraging them to take action as well. Perhaps one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and a common theme seen in Health Centers across the country that have robust advocacy programs, is support and buy-in from leadership. Monica Adams, Peninsula’s CEO, fully understood the importance of the Access is the Answer campaign and made advocacy around the funding cliff a top priority for the Health Center. PCHSAK is to be commended for their top down approach, their organizational commitment, and consistency in taking advocacy action – all of which yielded real results!