SHS Goes to Statehouses, Nation’s Capital

IMG_0309Swope 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.

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Michelle Keller, VP-Community Engagement, Development and Outreach, works the SHS booth at the State Capitol in Topeka.

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:

  1. Efforts to expand access to care in dental, medical and behavioral health services.
  2. Innovative new programs such as Medication-Assisted Treatment via the SHS Opioid Clinic, and Healthcare Home.
  3. Bridge funding for loan repayments to help attract and retain staff in safety net clinics.
  4. 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.

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Mark Miller, SHS VP-Behavioral Health, speaking on behalf of the Partnership for Medicaid in Washington, D.C.

 

We Need Your Help Supporting Community Health Centers

N-Web-Badge_Were-a-part-of-273x300Swope Health Services is joining forces with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC); the Missouri Primary Care Association, and Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU), to raise awareness of the services provided by Community Health Centers.

SHS is asking for your help, too.

You can support our Community Health Centers by becoming part of the Health Center Advocacy Network. If you sign up, you can choose to receive text or email updates with advocacy information. You’ll be adding your voice with ours.

Michelle Keller, Vice President, Community Engagement, Development & Outreach, is an advocate for Swope Health Services specifically and Federally Qualified Health Centers in general.

In her role as an advocate, she represents SHS interests in the Missouri and Kansas state houses, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Keller

Michelle Keller

Michelle’s first official foray into the government process was in Topeka, where legislators discussed the expansion of KanCare (Medicaid).

“It was standing room only in the hearing room at the Kansas statehouse,” she said. “People were fired up.”

She also visited the Missouri statehouse recently and later this year she will participate at the national level when she visits Washington, D.C. for legislative activities.

“No one is more surprised than me, but being involved in the democratic process at this level is exciting,” said Michelle. “The bottom line is: if I’m not there to tell them the SHS story, they can’t help us.”

The Health Center Advocacy Network builds grassroots support for the services provided by Community Health Centers like SHS. Community Health Centers are open to all residents, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Community Health Centers are cost effective and are estimated to save the national health system $24 billion a year.

The network also looks for stories that exemplify the important work of Community Health Centers and encourages everyone to share those stories with state and federal representatives using social media or traditional outreach (use the hashtag #valueCHCs).

“Our elected officials need to be aware of the important work we do in the community and work toward our interests,” Michelle said.

Help us! Join the network by signing up here, or follow the networks on Twitter (@MOPrimaryCare, @HCAdvocacy and @NACHC) or Facebook.

KS State Capitol

The Kansas State Capitol Building in Topeka …lovely at night!

Mo Legislature

The Missouri Legislature in full swing.