Policy and Advocacy - Testimony

DCPCA testimony at the Council of the District of Columbia Hearing on: The Oversight and Performance of the DC Department of Health- 2.17.17




Council of the District of Columbia Hearing on:

The Oversight and Performance of the

DC Department of Health


Committee on Health and Human Services

The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Chairperson

February 17, 2017


Patricia Quinn

Director of Strategy and External Affairs

District of Columbia Primary Care Association




Good morning Chairperson Gray and distinguished members of the committee.  My name is Patricia Quinn, Director of Policy and External Affairs for the DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA.) DCPCA represents community health centers and FQHCs who serve nearly 1 in 3 District residents in every ward of the District. We work to build a healthier DC by strengthening safety net community-based primary care. Today I am here to provide testimony on the performance and oversight of the DC Department of Health.


Chairman Gray, DCPCA provides training and technical assistance for our members on their path to meeting the demands of an outcomes-based system or value-based pay. For providers in the District and across the nation, the focus on outcomes is a new direction and presents its challenges as we work to make meaningful change in the lives of our patients. Much of the work we do to this end has been made easier due to the open and collaborative relationship that we share with DC Department of Health (DOH). DCPCA and DOH work in close partnership across several DOH divisions and multiple projects which create better efficiency for the District in that our efforts are multiplied across our 15 members and the more than 200,000 District residents we serve. 


DCPCA partners with DOH, specifically, the Primary Care Bureau, the Cancer and Chronic Disease Prevention Bureau in the Division of Community Health Access, and Health Emergency Preparedness Administration.  One of our joint programs, the DOH Million Hearts State Learning Collaborative, allowed DCPCA to organize a Care Management Summit to promote high quality performance and care delivery system among the centers; and in the future we will assist centers with patient engagement and population health for chronic disease management.  DOH funding has also allowed DCPCA to provide high quality TA including care management assessment, PCMH coaching, workflow re-design and QI data analytics to our centers. The partnership with DOH Million Hearts, which provides technical assistance focused in the areas of hypertension and diabetes performance improvement, has led to a new opportunity focused on expanding and improving colorectal cancer screening in the DC region.


DCPCA also works collaboratively with the Health Emergency Preparedness Administration (HEPRA) providing TA and resources to advance the emergency preparedness efforts in the Districts’ health centers. DCPCA also participates with the State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA), a critical health policy body in the District.  DCPCA is committed to ensuring that all 330 grantees in the District are ready to respond appropriately in the event of an emergency. The objective of our emergency preparedness T/TA is to increase awareness of the important role of community health centers in the District’s overall emergency response; and to facilitate the centers’ coordination with district and regional emergency preparedness plans.  Our partnership with DOH has ensured that our members are integrated into the District’s emergency response plan in a meaningful way. Our collaboration with HEPRA makes excellent use of what would otherwise be an underutilized resource to address health concerns during what may be the District’s greatest time of need.  


Director Nesbitt has, on multiple occasions, stated that creating a culture of health and wellness requires an expanded focus on the social determinants of health and health equity; with increased connections between public health and clinical medicine. DOH has embraced this focus as an active member of DC PACT (Positive Accountable Community Transformation) which seeks to create meaningful connections between clinical medicine and SDOH.


Director Nesbitt has a track record of supporting innovations which can be studied in practice and then expanded to our larger Medicaid populations. We look forward to collaborating on future innovative ideas that will support  our most vulnerable, hard to address patients to access care; which will in turn improve their ability to reach and maintain their optimal health.


As the health care climate in the District and the nation continues to change and health care delivery responds, community health centers will continue to serve and advocate for vulnerable populations.  District residents who disproportionately suffer from poor health due to disparities rooted in race, gender, income, and sexual orientation will remain our top priority, as they do for the Department of Health.  Health centers join DOH in rejecting health inequity as unnecessary, avoidable, unjust, and unfair. In partnership with DOH and all the health agencies, we focus on continuous improvement and insist on quality, insist on value, and insist on a fair shot at a full healthy life for every man, woman, and child in the District of Columbia.


We thank you for the opportunity to testify, and for your work and partnership in building a healthier DC. I am happy to answer any questions now or going forward. 

At the Department of Health (DOH) Performance and Oversight Hearing, our testimony supported health care innovation as evidenced by the Moving Upstream Symposium co-hosted by DOH and DCPCA in the Fall of 2014. We also urged rebidding for a primary care needs assessment released last year that was never awarded, and we recommended that it include specialty and behavioral health needs and capacity.

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DCPCA testified regarding the performance and oversight ofDepartment of Health Care Finance (DHCF) over the last year. In addition to thanking Director Wayne Turnage for his commitment to community health centers, our testimony focused on the pressing need to link electronic health records systems and data hubs across sites of care throughout the District and regionally. We also voiced support for further health center engagement in the transformation of the health care payment system from volume-based to performance-based contracts.

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