The Health Care Safety Net: Money Matters but Savvy Leadership Counts

Publication Date: August 2003

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Laurie E. Felland; Kyle Kinner; John F. Hoadley

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


The nation’s health care safety net—heavily reliant on external funding and support—is uniquely vulnerable to shifting and often adverse market and policy conditions. While adequate funding is essential to ensuring safety net providers can care for low-income people, the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) has identified a number of other factors key to building and maintaining viable community safety nets. Throughout the four rounds of HSC’s Community Tracking Study (CTS) site visits, researchers have found that strong political and organizational leadership, community support, collaboration and business acumen have helped safety net providers build capacity and improve care coordination for low-income and uninsured people. These characteristics and business strategies have strengthened many community safety nets, better preparing them to weather current economic problems and providing a road map for the potentially tougher times ahead.