Archived Story

State petition supports Community Health Centers

Published 6:00pm Friday, November 11, 2011

Petitions signed by thousands of Michigan residents calling on Congress and the president to support and protect Community Health Centers were presented to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation this week by Community Health Center advocates from across the state.
The petitions were also accompanied by letters from Health Center patients, staff and board members and community residents in a show of support for Michigan Health Centers.
Twelve Michigan Health Centers fall within Upton’s district, including Cassopolis Family Clinic in Cassopolis and Niles; Family Health Center Inc. in Kalamazoo and Portage; and InterCare Community Health Network in Bangor, Benton Harbor, Eau Claire and Pullman.
The local petition effort is part of a larger national Campaign for America’s Health Centers launched to protect the Community Health Centers program from spending cuts.
Patients and staff of health centers, along with other community residents, have joined in the effort to educate national leaders about the critical role of health centers in providing access to preventive care and cost-savings.
Upton is among the members of Congress who are tapped to serve on the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the  Supercommittee, that is weighing cuts to programs in order to trim the deficit.
Many local health center advocates have contacted Upton to underscore the value of health centers and Medicaid in providing access to health care.
“The point of our campaign is to educate our national leaders not only about the importance of our health center in the community, but the importance of Medicaid to our patients,” said Velma Hendershott, president and CEO of InterCare Community Health Network, a Bangor-based health center network that serves uninsured and underinsured patients, including residents in the Benton Harbor community.
“At InterCare, we provide cost-effective care for patients – many of whom are Medicaid beneficiaries – who would otherwise seek nonemergency care at the local hospital.
“Every day, we are keeping these patients healthy and out of hospitals and putting cost savings back into the system.  We are hopeful that Rep. Upton continues to support the value of our service in the community.”
“Congressman Upton has always understood the value of Community Health Centers, not only for providing people in need with access to cost-effective, quality, affordable health care, but also for creating jobs and serving as economic engines in their communities.  Michigan Primary Care Association and the state’s Community Health Centers trust that Congressman Upton will continue that support by protecting Health Center funding and preserving the Medicaid program. Medicaid is vital to the viability of Community Health Centers and to the patients who depend on it as their source of affordable health coverage,” said Kim Sibilsky, the executive director of Michigan Primary Care Association.
The Campaign for America’s Health Centers is a national effort to mobilize the nearly 150,000 staff and more than 20 million patients of health centers across the country as Congress considers cuts to federal discretionary programs as well as changes to the Medicaid program that could force health centers to reduce services for patients.

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