Relief, Restoration and Reform: Economic Upturn Yields Modest and Uneven Health Returns

Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Robert E. Hurley; Aaron Katz; Laurie E. Felland

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


The sensitivity of state budgets to economic cycles contributes to fluctuations in health coverage, eligibility, benefits and provider payment levels in public programs, as well as support for safety net hospitals and community health centers (CHCs). The aftershocks of the 2001 recession on state budgets were felt well into 2004. More recently, the economic recovery allowed many states to restore cuts and, in some cases, expand health services for low-income people, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change’s (HSC) 2007 site visits to 12 nationally representative metropolitan communities. Along with bolstering support of safety net providers and raising Medicaid payments for private physicians, some states advanced even more ambitious health reform proposals. Yet across communities, safety net systems face mounting challenges of caring for more uninsured patients, and these pressures will likely increase given the current economic downturn.