First Ever Virtual Day at the Capitol
As with most things in our lives these days, our annual Day at the Capitol was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through efforts with the California Primary Care Association and our member community health centers, we decided to coordinate virtual meetings with our elected officials last week.
Over a period of four days, we and our health centers, successfully met with all eight of our Alameda County state elected officials to discuss budget priorities as well as using this opportunity to educate them about the crucial role of our community health centers in COVID-19 response and recovery.
Governor Newsom’s May Revision Budget included several devastating cuts to vital programs and services; we wanted to take this time to convey our top budget priorities – Telehealth and Telephonic Care and Pharmacy Transition. It was imperative that we made our elected officials aware of just how quickly our health centers transitioned to virtual healthcare successfully to begin providing timely access to care while limiting COVID-19 exposure to our patients, clinicians, and staff. It was equally important for us to relay to our elected officials that pursuing the Governor’s pharmacy transition at this time poses a great risk to the ongoing COVID-19 response.
We used this time to illustrate, with stories and frontline experiences, that the pandemic has shown now more than ever that our health centers require innovative tools to reach our patients and that while we support the Governor’s vision to reform the health care delivery system that would lower pharmaceutical drug costs, pursuing it at this time would be detrimental to our community health centers.
We urged our elected officials to adopt trailer bill language in this budget cycle to allow telehealth flexibilities and telephonic allowances to be extended indefinitely which will be a key component to California’s recovery as well as delaying the pharmacy transition during a time when our health centers are already facing considerable financial hardships.
We are always moved and encouraged by the support our elected officials show for the services our community health centers provide to all members of our community and we’re hopeful our requests will be taken into consideration as we begin the process of recovering and rebuilding.