Roundtable Highlights Progress, Next Steps on Expanding Access to Care & Addressing Opioid Crisis
MANCHESTER — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today hosted a roundtable discussion with Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) leaders and staff. The discussion highlighted the key role community health centers play in serving the Manchester community, including in addressing the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis, and how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its Medicaid expansion have improved community health centers’ ability to provide care. Shea-Porter shared her commitment to continuing that progress and discussed how her newly introduced bill, the Medicare You Can Opt Into Act of 2017, would do that.
“Community health centers know better than anyone that this would be the worst time to yank the rug out from under people who now have access to care, because it’s working,” Shea-Porter said. “It’s impressive to see the innovation here at Manchester Community Health Center, especially in integrating behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment in care, because for so many years this was siloed.”
“Health centers find a way to stretch that dollar and be creative,” said Kris McCracken, MCHC President and CEO, highlighting community health centers’ impressive return on investment and the need to continue the Affordable Care Act’s investment in the Community Health Center Fund. Shea-Porter recently wrote to Congressional appropriators in support of the funding, together with 288 bipartisan Members of Congress.
Julie Hazell-Felch, MCHC’s Director of Behavioral Health, discussed how the ACA and its Medicaid expansion have allowed MCHC to address the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire, highlighting its medication assisted treatment (MAT) program for patients with opioid and alcohol use disorder and its school-based outreach and prevention efforts, saying: “If we lost Medicaid expansion we wouldn’t be able to offer these programs, and you aren’t going to find this amount of diversified programs anywhere else.”
Cecilia Skerry, who directs MCHC’s patient navigator services, highlighted the benefits of being able to connect previously uninsured patients with coverage, saying: “Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, my team has been able to provide better quality assistance. Now, we can get anywhere from 350 to 500 new patients a month” enrolled in coverage through the ACA’s Marketplace or Medicaid expansion (the New Hampshire Health Protection Program).