Swope Health Services representatives have been logging some miles lately, making visits to Missouri and Kansas statehouses as well as the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.
It’s all part of continuing outreach efforts to make sure state and federal legislators understand our perspectives on healthcare, behavioral healthcare and community services.
David Barber, President and CEO; Naimish Patel, CFO/COO; Michelle Keller, VP-Community Engagement, Development and Outreach; and Mark Miller, VP-Behavioral Health make regular visits to the state capitols in Topeka and Jefferson City to meet with elected representatives and their staff.
This year, Valentine’s Day was also “Hill Day” in Jefferson City – a day to show some appreciation to legislators and provide them with the tools to make effective choices on issues in mental health and community healthcare services.
The Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Health Care, which includes SHS, drives the effort of coordinating the “wish lists” for state leaders.
Michelle offers an example of the kinds of discussions that take place.
“We make sure they understand our mission and history, and give them the details of our scope of service,” she said. “Then we talk about very specific areas where we request their support.”
This year, SHS asked for support for:
- Efforts to expand access to care in dental, medical and behavioral health services.
- Innovative new programs such as Medication-Assisted Treatment via the SHS Opioid Clinic, and Healthcare Home.
- Bridge funding for loan repayments to help attract and retain staff in safety net clinics.
- Promotion of Community Health Centers, recognizing their cost effectiveness, efficiency and comprehensive services.
“We’re fortunate in that we have legislators who believe in our mission and are very supportive of what we do,” says Michelle. “Many of them have visited our facilities and met with our staff and patients so they’ve seen first-hand how community health centers help people live healthier, happier lives.”
SHS outreach extends to local elected officials, too. There are regular meetings with county legislators, city officials and public health agencies.
Mark Miller was one of four panelists delivering a presentation in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Partnership for Medicaid, a coalition made up of the National Association of Community Health Centers and about two dozen similar organizations.
“We wanted to give legislators a view of the needs of our constituents,” he said. “We are advocating with a simple message: Medicaid is worth preserving. It provides a safety net for millions of people and it helps us serve our community.”
You can help SHS’ outreach efforts by becoming part of the Health Center Advocacy Network, part of the National Association of Community Health Centers. If you sign up, you can choose to receive text or email updates with advocacy information. You’ll be adding your voice with ours.