Now in its fourth year, the Foundation’s population health initiative is helping community health center organizations across the country identify and create sustainable approaches to build capacity, advance systems of care and strengthen service delivery to improve the health of communities they serve. Working on a defined local priority issue, each organization is developing strategies that deepen the features of patient- and community-centered health homes, while improving health at the community level. These diverse initiatives share a dedication to excellence, a commitment to advancing not just health care delivery, but health, and a commitment to equity – values deeply embedded in the health center movement.

A top priority for many health centers is effective primary care–behavioral health integration to meet the many challenges of their patients and communities as the need for both mental health and substance use disorder services increases, while preparing for new payment models and systems of care. Two new population health planning projects, each focused on addressing aspects of primary care and behavioral health integration, join our current cohort of project partners.

The Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (NWRPCA), which represents community health centers in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, is spearheading an effort aimed at identifying how Community Health Workers (CHWs) can best be utilized in health center settings to promote effective integration of behavioral and primary health care services, and establishing a coordinated strategy that will maximize resources for training and sustaining CHWs and CHW programs as part of an integrated care model. The objectives of the project are to assess the current utilization of CHWs in community health center-based settings, evaluate training requirements, and support organizational readiness to incorporate CHWs in integrated service models across the region.

On the other coast, CHCANYS, the Community Healthcare Association of New York State, is working to build capacity to support its members in the state’s transition to integrated care, a key objective of NYS’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program as it moves into its fifth and final year. Along with the NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, CHCANYS is participating in the Delta Center for a Thriving Safety Net, a two-year primary care and behavioral health State Learning and Action Collaborative focused on providing technical assistance to state primary care associations and behavioral health associations, as they advance toward value-based systems of care. With support from RCHN CHF, CHCANYS will build on the Delta Center initiative to create learning and networking opportunities for the state’s health centers and key stakeholders, build partnerships across the primary care and behavioral health sectors, develop models for data sharing and collaboration, and foster practices that will help health centers succeed in a value-based payment environment.

To learn more about our ongoing population health projects, including behavioral health-primary care related programs at Fenway Health (MA) and Access Community Health Network (IL) please visit our website here.

RCHN CHF Population Health Initiative Participants

Top left to right: Mariposa CHC staff and collaborators (AZ), Erie County CHC Mobile Health Unit (OH), GPCA and program collaborators.

Middle left to right: GPCA staff and program collaborators (GA), St. John’s Well Child and Family Center CHW home visits (CA), Idaho PCA & Terry Reilly Health Services FVRx program (ID)

Bottom left to right: Charles B. Wang CHC “Community Action on Smoking and Health” initia¬tive (NY), Access Community Health Network (IL) & ACCESS Family Care staff (MO).

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Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative Publications 2018

Essential to our focus on community health centers and vulnerable populations, RCHN Community Health Foundation is committed to creating an evidence base that documents and analyzes the unique challenges that health centers face today: ensuring access; understanding and reducing medical underservice; tackling health disparities; and offering exceptional, high quality care.

The centerpiece of our policy and translational research activities is the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative – a unique, educational and research partnership between the Foundation and Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. With the support of the Foundation, the Collaborative has become the academic research home for the study and advancement of health centers and the communities they serve. We’re extremely proud that in addition to the Collaborative’s policy research briefs – including 5 new briefs this past year alone, and now numbering 55 in total – the Foundation’s funding provides additional support for significant studies on community health centers, such as those published by Kaiser Family Foundation (The Recovery of Community Health Centers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands One Year after Hurricanes Maria and IrmaCommunity Health Centers’ Experiences in a More Mature ACA MarketThe Role of Community Health Centers in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic, among many others) and The Commonwealth Fund (Repealing Federal Health Reform: Economic and Employment Consequences for States.) Along with a growing body of peer-reviewed literature, this research is relied on by federal and state policy makers, news media, and health centers and primary care associations across the country. A selection of recent work by the Collaborative team, on topics ranging from Medicaid work requirements and veterans’ health to asthma interventions and family planning policy, includes:

Richard E Rieselbach, Ted Epperly, Greg Nycz, Peter Shin. (2019). Community Health Centers Could Provide Better Outsourced Primary Care for Veterans. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 34: 150.

Avi Dor, Qian Luo, Maya Tuchman Gerstein, Floyd Malveaux, Herman Mitchell, Anne Rosier Markus. (2018). Cost-effectiveness of an Evidence-Based Childhood Asthma Intervention in Real-World Primary Care Settings. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management. 41(3):213-224.

Sara Rosenbaum and Jessica Sharac. (2018). The Projected Effects of the Arkansas Medicaid Work Requirement Demonstration on Community Health Centers. GW Health Policy Matters blog. October 31, 2018.

Sara Rosenbaum Susan Wood Julia Strasser Jessica Sharac Janelle Wylie Thao-Chi Tran. (2018). The Title X Family Planning Proposed Rule: What’s at Stake for Community Health Centers? Health Affairs blog. June 25, 2018.

Peter Shin Jessica Sharac Sara Rosenbaum. Kentucky’s Medicaid Work Requirements: The Potential Effects on Community Health Centers. Health Affairs Blog. April 12, 2018.

These noteworthy studies are critical to the policy debate on the future of health care in America. As we embark upon 2019, we look forward to strengthening this partnership supporting critical health policy research. More on the Geiger Gibson/ RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative briefs and other research from this academic collaboration is available on our website.

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Health Policy Fellows Program 2019: Accepting Applications

The Geiger Gibson Health Policy Fellows Program is designed to help mid-level and senior health center, PCA, and HCCN staff develop a deeper understanding of health policy and advocacy. Through a series of web-based sessions, culminating in a three-day residential session in Washington, DC., the Fellows Program provides rising leaders in the health center movement with an immersive experience in federal health policy, and assists participants in developing basic health policy analysis competencies so that they can engage effectively in advocacy. Program faculty include senior NACHC staff, faculty at Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington DC-based health policy experts, Geiger Gibson Distinguished Visitors, and congressional and agency staff. Apply for our 2019 cohorts: April 15-17, 2019 (apply NOW – limited spots remaining) or October 21-23, 2019 (applications due by March 15, 2019)

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Upcoming Presentation – Comer Bien (Eat Well)

Attending the 2019 Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health in Portland next month? Colleagues Patty Molina, Ruby Carillo & Lizzie Garcia from Mariposa Community Health Center (AZ) will be presenting a session on Comer Bien (Eat Well), the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, part of our population health initiative. Join them on Friday February 22, 8:30-10:00 a.m.

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In Case You Missed It

IT and Systems Considerations for Disaster Preparedness and Management,” by RCHN CHF staff David Hartzband and Feygele Jacobs, in the latest issue of NACHC’s Community Health Forum magazine, focuses on IT systems and infrastructure issues that are essential to preparedness and operational recovery for health centers.