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Safety Net Care Coordination Growing Trend for Uninsured

August 7, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), care providers for low-income uninsured people are increasingly looking towards care coordination to improve quality care and reduce costs. The study, “Safety-Net Providers in Some U.S. Communities Have Increasingly Embraced Coordinated Care Models,” examined trends in safety net coordination activities from 2000 to 2010 in 12 cities with low-income metropolitan communities.

“Delivery of health services through the safety net historically has been fragmented. Usually hospitals, community health centers, and private physicians providing charity care have operated independently of each other, with little or no coordination…. Such fragmentation can result in severe gaps in the availability of services, reduce quality, lead to redundant use, and increase the costs to providers who typically operate with limited resources and thin margins,” the report’s authors said in the article.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute for Health Care Reform, found there were three main approaches to safety net coordination: centralized referral networks, managed care programs for the uninsured, and care coordination across multiple providers. According to the research, care coordination across multiple providers involves organizations, such as a hospital and community health center, working together. An example, cited was the establishment of a medical home for uninsured patients.

There were concerns cited in the research. According to the HSC, some community-based respondents were “concerned that safety-net coordination programs could face a loss of private funding and community interest.”

The study, which will appear in the August issue of Health Affairs, can be found here: www.hschange.org/CONTENT/1306/<http://www.hschange.org/CONTENT/1306/.  

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