A new video featuring staff, patients, and providers from International Community Health Services (ICHS) will advocate for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the face of a new political agenda threatening vital health care funding. Community health centers like ICHS aim to bring equitable health care access to communities and individuals that need it, and much of their funding comes from the ACA. As the leaps in health care policy made during the Obama administration are threatened, community health centers—and with them, many people’s access to health care—stand on the edge of a knife.
DoQuyen Huynh is the director of ICHS’ Assistant Resident Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Residency program. Funding for community health centers won’t hurt the health center as much as it will hurt patients and community members, she said. “On a larger level, with the funding cuts, our country’s health system will be reactive instead of preventive; we will spend more while having worse health outcomes,” Huynh wrote in an email, citing the fact that the ACA also funds services like cancer screenings offered by community health centers like ICHS.
William Hoskyn, another ARNP, wrote that without Medicaid funding, community health centers would not have resources to provide services to their patients. “And more importantly, more people will be uninsured and will delay care, which has tremendous consequences on our economy and their health,” he wrote.
In its five-minute runtime, the video not only addresses the impact of the ACA on community health care centers as institutions, but captures how its policies have affected the wellbeing of families and individuals. In an early look at the video, one woman speaks, voice shaking, a tear escaping the corner of her eye even as she tries to hold back the emotion. “Cutting the funding, cutting the needs of patients, cutting how you survive and also different programs, but that’s the most important for every human being … I’m speaking with my heart. We want more funding, continue the funding to improve,” she says.
Putting the pieces together
It took many community players to put together the multimedia piece. A group of ICHS Advanced Resident Nurse Practitioners gathered the content and reached out to the South East Asian Young Men’s Group (SEAYM) at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) to help film the piece. The SEAYM group offers a film program where youth learn the art of filmmaking and use the medium to tell powerful personal stories. The program’s director, Joseph Mills, opened up the project to the group and three youth showed interest. They helped with filming subjects and assisted in the editing process as well.
Mills approached the youth soon after they had returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Community Anti-Drug Commission of America (CADCA) conference. The group met with Washington state senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. The visit sparked conversations around legal drug use in Washington and impacts on youth among other health care related questions. The youth were able to personally relate with current health care issues, especially after visiting the national capital where the fate of ACA legislation will be determined.
“I think that really connected with some of the kids as far as wanting to do something to advocate for their communities and you know for their families … seeing … as this really being a threat to a lot of people in their communities,” Mills said.
The end goal of the project is to send the final product to state legislators, bringing attention to the importance of community health centers and the meaningful impacts of ACA legislation.
“The target audience is politicians who may not understand the capacity of a community health center and how funding impacts the community, which is made of the constituents that they serve,” wrote Esther Park, an ARNP resident at ICHS, in an email.
Huynh also noted that the video equally targets regular community folks and patients who might be able to better understand how the ACA has impacted their health care systems. Doing so would allow the community to come together and advocate, or vote in favor of health care service funding.
“Regardless of what’s happening there on a federal level” said Mills, “[the goal is] to really emphasize to our local lawmakers here in Washington about the importance of continuing to fund health care and the Medicaid expansion in particular.”
The video will go up on YouTube on August 15.