At the 2022 Primary Care Conference in Wilmington, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA) held an awards luncheon to honor a bi–partisan group of lawmakers who have consistently advocated for the needs of Community Health Centers and our patients.
The Association presented N.C. State Senator Jim Perry (R-Lenoir, Wayne) with our Community Health Advocate of the Year Award, which is presented to lawmakers who have made significant contributions toward the development and support of Community Health Centers and the communities they serve within the past year. Thanks to Senator Perry’s leadership, North Carolina has enacted protections for affordable medications and other critical Community Health Centers services made possible through the 340B drug discount program.
NCCHCA also recognized three retiring members of Congress with the Association’s Community Health Champion Legacy Award, which honors their longstanding service, dedication, and advocacy on behalf of Community Health Centers and the patients and communities we serve across North Carolina.
This year’s Community Health Champion Legacy Awardees were:
- U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
- U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC01)
- U.S. Congressman David Price (D-NC04)
While they were not able to attend the luncheon in person, the honorees accepted their awards with pre-recorded remarks that were played for attendees.
While we took time to reflect on our shared accomplishments and express gratitude to those policy makers who share our mission, we also looked ahead to our future policy goals, which include expanding Medicaid, protecting the 340B Drug Discount Program, and enhancing Community Health Center funding to support the expansion of needed programs such as increased behavioral health services.
The Association Notes the Transformative Impact HB 149 Will Have on Patient Care and CHC Operations
The North Carolina Community Health Center Association applauds the N.C. Senate’s passage of HB 149, which would expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured North Carolinians and strengthen the state’s Community Health Centers (CHCs), which provide comprehensive primary care services in rural and medically underserved communities without regard to patients’ ability to pay.
Medicaid expansion is the single most transformative state policy the N.C. General Assembly can enact to increase health care access and strengthen the primary care safety net. “Not only will Medicaid expansion help Community Health Centers enhance and expand the services we provide to medically underserved communities, but it will also enable hundreds of thousands of our state’s residents to live healthier lives with more secure access to the care they need,” said Reuben C. Blackwell, IV, President and CEO of OIC of Rocky Mount and Chair of the NCCHCA Board of Directors. “For the sake of our patients and our health care providers, it’s crucial that the North Carolina General Assembly take this important step of expanding Medicaid.”
Statewide, 40 percent of CHC patients are uninsured, while uninsured rates for individual health centers are as high as 70 to 80 percent. When CHCs lack reimbursement for the essential services they provide, it strains their operating budgets and prevents them from expanding their capacity to reach more patients. Expanding Medicaid would also save patients the burden of living with worsening health conditions because they fear the cost of seeking treatment.
In addition to improving health care access and outcomes for patients, Medicaid expansion would generate increased revenue for CHCs, enabling them to hire more clinical staff, extend the availability of services into new areas of the state, and expand needed programs, such as addiction treatment, mobile medical units, and dental services.
We applaud the N.C. Senate for this historic action and call on N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and the rest of the N.C. House delegation to pass Medicaid expansion to deliver the health care solutions that are vitally important to the health and economic well-being of our state.