Eastern Shore Rural Health attains recognition for advocacy efforts

December 29, 2023
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Eastern Shore Rural Health

Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc. has been awarded Advocacy Center of Excellence (ACE) Silver Status by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Eastern Shore Rural Health is currently the only active ACE in the state of Virginia.

As an ACE, Rural Health joins an exclusive nationwide network of community health centers who work to advance community health initiatives in the legislative arena. NACHC Advocacy Task Force meetings provide networking and learning opportunities for health center advocacy leaders. The Rural Health Advocacy Committee spearheads efforts for the organization and its patients. On Dec. 13 the committee hosted Virginia Senator Bill DeSteph at Eastville Community Health Center. “Senator DeSteph hit the ground running with a visit to our Eastville center to learn about how Rural Health serves the Shore,” said Advocacy Committee Chairman Dr. Art Fournier. “We appreciate his time and interest.”

Sen. DeSteph will represent Virginia’s Eastern Shore beginning in January 2024.  State Senate districts 6, 7 and 8 have been combined to form the new 20th District which includes Accomack and Northampton counties and parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Currently the Eastern Shore of Virginia is part of district 6 represented by retiring Sen. Lynwood Lewis and Sen. DeSteph represents district 8.

Legislative Priorities

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As a Community Health Center, Eastern Shore Rural Health reduces barriers that can keep people from getting primary health care such as cost, lack of insurance, distance, and language. Current legislative priorities include:

  • Protecting the 340B program that helps low-income and other vulnerable patients get more affordable medicines and, in turn, supports safety-net providers, like Community Health Centers, in their overall mission to provide vital medical services and care. (See https://www.asap340b.org/ for info.)
  • Attaining a change in scope from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services needed to increase base pay for Medicaid visits in the Federally Qualified Health Center Prospective Payment System. The amount distributed to health centers has not been increased for years. There is new legislation to not only increase the amount of funding but also backpay what the cost of living should have been for several years, which would benefit Community Health Centers.
  • Securing General Assembly funding distributed to the state’s Community Health Centers through the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. Rural Health uses this money to provide services to uninsured patients and in support of its pharmacy assistance that helps qualified patients get affordable prescriptions. (See https://esrh.org/help-getting-prescriptions/ for info.)
  • Securing federal funding for Community Health Centers. The primary form of federal funding is the Health Center Program, authorized in Section 330 of the Public Health Services Act, and more commonly known as the “330 Grant.”  Funding for the Health Center Program comes from a combination of discretionary funding, appropriated by Congress each year, and mandatory funding from the Community Health Center Fund. (See https://www.nachc.org/policy-advocacy/health-center-funding/federal-grant-funding/ for more info.)

“As a safety-net organization we provide care regardless of ability to pay,” said Rural Health CEO Jeannette Edwards. “Investing in Community Health Centers benefits entire communities by ensuring all citizens get basic preventive medical and dental care and treatment for chronic physical and mental health conditions.”

Rural Health patients interested in helping with advocacy efforts can contact Amy Bull at [email protected] or call 757-414-0400, ext. 1122.

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