To celebrate National Health Center Week, HealthPoint Federal Way welcomed Congressman Adam Smith and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell to speak on the importance of community health centers on Monday afternoon.
“It’s all about access to health care,” Smith told the crowd of more than 60 people on Aug. 5, adding that access is what community health care facilities provide on a “ground base, grassroots level.”
HealthPoint Federal Way is a locally-run center that is part of the nationwide affordable primary care organization, a network that serves more than 28 million patients. National Health Center Week, honored Aug. 4-10, aims to raise awareness of the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers throughout the past 50 years.
These accomplishments include reaching special patient populations by going beyond methods of conventional medicine to address social determinants, reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations, serving more than 355,000 veterans throughout the country, and more.
Smith, a supporter of universal access health care, said health care policy is the one thing that “every single one of my constituents cares about.”
“No issue is as universal as health care,” Smith said. “It touches everybody … “
Of all the problems with America’s health care system, Smith said, the biggest frustration for most is not being able to get the care that they need and the first step happens when an individual is able to walk into a community clinic such as HealthPoint.
There is no more effective deliverer of health care services than those in your neighborhood and those that are easily accessible, Smith added.
Although it may be an incremental process, the current focus needs to be expanding access, Smith said. Two questions stemmed from the idea: How do we get more people covered? And then how do we control costs?
“In my mind, controlling costs is the same as expanding access,” he said. “The one of the big blocks to it is how expensive it is.
“We need to figure out better ways to deliver health care; more efficient, more effective ways to get better results quicker.”
“The most important work, in my mind, of health care reform going on in this country is being done by you,” he told the crowd of more than 60 people on Monday afternoon.
Smith said he hopes to hear more stories from those in the field to help reflect these experiences in future health care policies.
HealthPoint CEO Thomas Trompeter briefly discussed community health care facilities heavy reliance on federal funding.
While historically the funding for these centers has been authorized for five-year increments providing ample funding for each year, the federal budgeting periods have been set at two-year increments in recent years, said Claire Keeler, communications and engagement director for HealthPoint.
This reduction has created a hardship for many community health care centers as they try to plan for their futures while their financial support is in question, Keeler said.
Congressman Smith is an advocate for the return of the five-year authorization schedule and for the sufficient funding necessary for centers like HealthPoint to serve local communities, she added.
At the event, Mayor Ferrell shared his advocacy and support for local health clinics, highlighting the City Council vote to spend $221,000 toward the Public Health clinic in 2014.