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McCollum Remarks at Open Cities' 50th Anniversary Celebration

October 19, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) delivered remarks at the 50th anniversary celebration for the Open Cities Health Center, held on October 19, 2017:

Good morning! I am thrilled to be with you all.

Let me start by saying … Happy Birthday Open Cities!

For 50 years Open Cities has been dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of our community. And for that, all I can say is thank you! 

Thank you to the amazing healthcare professionals and office staff who have been served patients with quality care, respect, and dignity for five decades.

Thank you to the leadership of board members, community members, and CEO Jim Platten – for building and sustaining a community health center that is trusted, valued, and critical to the well-being of thousands of Minnesotans. Thank you for remarkable people like Dr. Fred and Gwen Lewis!

I have a fundamental belief when it comes to healthcare. I believe healthcare should be a right for all Americans!

I believe accessing quality healthcare makes us all healthier, makes families more successful, and makes America a stronger nation.

Whenever I visit the Dunlap Clinic or the North End Clinic – I see Open Cities’ staff not only improving a patient’s quality of life, but providing care with respect and dignity that elevates all of our humanity.

I believe in your work.  Your work is essential. And, as you well know, our community depends on your success.

But we live in strange times. We are watching the White House and Congress are doing everything in their power to take healthcare coverage away from people.

All of our shared success at expending coverage, containing costs, improving access, providing quality care, and changing lives for the better – it is all under attack!

Primary care and preventive screenings are not a luxury – they are essential to keeping people healthy!

The ACA – Obamacare – is not a dirty word – it is a policy I voted for, I support, and I am going to keep fighting to protect because it has changed lives and saved lives.

Friends, we have our hands full. I want you all to focus on keeping people healthy.  Yes, that is a top priority. But I also need active, engaged citizens who are willing to have their voices heard across this country.

I need your help because we need to protect our community health centers, we need to protect Medicaid, we need to protect CHIP, and we need to protect and fight for healthcare for millions of Americans who will get sicker and sicker unless we stop the Trump Administration and this Congress from destroying Obamacare.

Congress still has not extended funding for community health centers to avoid what is known as the primary care cliff. Federal funding expired at the end of September and instead of funding this critical initiative, Congress left town without getting its work done.  You need to know I am 100-percent committed to fighting to fully fund our community health centers!

Open Cities is not only a success story, it is truly a national model of quality, integrated care. I am honored to be here to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past 50 years.

And, as we look forward, I know we shall overcome the trials and tribulations of the current political environment. We look forward to improvements, efficiencies, and even higher quality care – but, in the Open Cities tradition, it will always be rooted in compassion, respect, and the needs of the community.

Thank you and I wish Open Cities all the best as you start the next 50 years of remarkable service to our community.