Performance Improvement 2000. Expanding Access to Care


Safety-Net Provider Capacity for Care to Low-Income Uninsured Patients

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the capacity of health departments, public hospitals, and other community-based, safety-net providers to serve the low-income uninsured. Evidence indicates that these safety-net providers are under increased financial pressure due to Medicaid managed care, reduced State funds for the direct delivery of health care services, and a continued rise in the number of uninsured and under-insured. The capacity of safety-net providers is to be measured in terms of change in revenues to serve the low-income uninsured (e.g., change in operating margins or limits on cash reserves), number and type of patient encounters, and the proportion of services provided. Secondary data analysis and site visits will be conducted in twenty communities, with both urban and rural locations. Secondary data will be drawn from AHA's and National Association of Public Hospitals' surveys, NACCHO's survey of local health departments, HRSA's data on community and migrant health centers, CDC's proposed tracking of health departments, and RWJ's Community Tracking Study of community-based providers. Time series analysis will include three years of the most recent available data. Site visits will collect information on State and local government policies that influence the safety net and the role of local provider organizations in the viability of the safety net. Focus groups and interviews with providers and local public health officials will be held in each of the sampled communities. With emphasis on HRSA-supported programs, this study will help policy makers to identify the impact of shifts in health care financing on services provided to low-income uninsured patients. Resources within HRSA's service delivery program can be reallocated to ensure that those most needing care are served.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of the Administrator

FEDERAL CONTACT: Ross, Alexander

PIC ID: 7240

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Washington, DC