January 4, 2017:
Senator Tim Scott: Along with governmental relations consultant Rudy Williams, I met briefly with Senator Scott followed by a more extensive meeting with Legislative Assistant, Kate Hunter. After thanking the Senator (once again) for his August visit to McCormick Family Practice, my message was brief and to the point. I acknowledged the possibility/probability of repeal/replace actions, noted that health centers have clearly demonstrated their value as primary care medical homes, and assured him that health centers are well positioned to be an integral and key component of the nation’s health care delivery system in the future. We talked briefly about the business case for expanding access to primary care through the nation’s health centers. I commented specifically on the impact of Lauren’s County Community Care Center (LC4) – a Carolina Health Centers practice that is located contiguous to a hospital emergency room, noting that according to the hospital, the close proximity of an FQHC has reduced repeat use of the emergence department for primary care and is credited with helping the hospital to achieve one of the lowest inpatient readmission rates in the state. I told the Senator that the Advisory Board is featuring LC4 in an upcoming publication and promised to provide him a copy as soon as it is released. In closing, I reminded him of the long history of bipartisan support for community health centers and asked for his continued support going forward.
In my follow-up meeting with staff I went into more detail on the two primary areas of interest for health centers: 1) protecting health center appropriations and eliminating the funding cliff permanently; and 2) protecting the integrity of health center reimbursement under Medicaid. We also discussed the need importance of loan repayment options to enable health centers to compete effectively in the provider recruitment arena so as to build necessary capacity.
Senator Lindsay Graham: Rudy and I met with three individuals from Senator Graham’s office: Jessica Tyson Phillips, Legislative Assistant, Nicholas Myers, Senior Counsel, and Adair Bramlett, Legislative Aide. Jessica (JP) is very familiar with health centers in general and Carolina Health Centers specifically and I provided her with an update on two initiatives of interest to their office: LC4 and our integration of evidence based home visitation program with our pediatric medical home. We proceeded to talk about the unknowns of the future and my message content was similar to that used with Senator Scott’s office. JP acknowledged that the Senator will want to support the health centers in whatever transpires with repeal and replace. Noting the Senator’s preference for a high level perspective, she asked if NACHC has or could expedite the production of a document that outlines the critical needs of the health centers in format and language that is easily digested. We talked about this from both the perspective of what would ideally position the health centers as the foundation of a future replace strategy as well as those things that could critically weaken the health centers. JP and the Senator’s other staff present expressed the opinion that such a brief would be an essential tool as the dialogue begins to evolve. I promised JP I would forward this request to NACHC staff and follow-up with her as to what we might be able to provide the Senator and his staff and how quickly.
Congressman James Clyburn: Meeting with Ashli Scott-Palmer in Congressman Clyburn’s office had to be cancelled and rescheduled as a phone meeting next week due to their meeting with President Obama running over schedule.
Congressman Jeff Duncan: We concluded the day with a meeting in Congressman Duncan’s office where we talked with Addie Patterson, Legislative Assistant. I have visited often with Addie as well as the Congressman himself, so they are very familiar with Carolina Health Centers – particularly the LC4 practice which the Congressman has visited on a few occasions. The message was essentially the same and, although the Congressman is supportive of our LC4 project, I believe given his political ideology it is unlikely that he will be aligned with the needs of the health centers specific to funding and Medicaid.