KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Finds Demand Continues For Safety-Net Care In Massachusetts

Even though the state reduced the number of uninsured residents in its health care overhaul, many people still get treatments at community health centers and safety-net hospitals.

Los Angeles Times: Demand For Safety-Net Care Remains High In Massachusetts
Massachusetts community health centers and so-called safety-net hospitals – originally created to serve the poor and uninsured – have seen no let-up in demand, even after the state's reforms, according to new research published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers at George Washington University and the University of Minnesota found the number of patients receiving care from community health centers increased by 31% between 2005 and 2009 (Levey, 8/8).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Newly Insured In Mass. Still Use Community Health Centers
Community health centers in Massachusetts saw a surge in patients after the state expanded health insurance coverage, indicating that the safety-net clinics remain a vital source of care even when people gain insurance, according to a study released today (Galewitz, 8/8).

National Journal: Study: Insurance Coverage Doesn't Decrease Patients At Safety-Net Hospitals
Increasing access to health insurance in Massachusetts increased the number of patients at hospitals and clinics that offer care to a large number of poor and uninsured, according to a study released Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings from Leighton Ku at George Washington University's Public Health Department and co-authors could have implications for the 2010 health reform law, providing a potential explanation of where the estimated 30 million newly insured patients will get their health care (McCarthy, 8/8). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: With Health Reform, An Increased Demand For Safety-Net Hospitals, Study Finds
The state law tried to make sure that [uninsured] patients who had been getting care at community health centers and safety net hospitals would continue to do so, and this study suggests that those efforts worked. Under the law, residents who qualified for free or subsidized coverage had a choice of four insurance options, three of which were run by or affiliated with the health care safety network. These four plans were the only option for subsidized coverage during the first three years of the law. So, by design, if low and moderate income patients wanted care, they went to a safety net hospital or community health center (Bebinger and Zimmerman, 8/8). 

In related news:

Modern Healthcare: Health Center Association Cites Rising Need
Advocates for the nation's community health centers are hoping a new report will help deter congressional leaders from implementing additional federal spending cuts to these facilities. In conjunction with National Health Center Week from Aug. 7-13, the National Association of Community Health Centers released Access Endangered: Profiles of the Medically Disenfranchised, which said that $600 million in federal funding cuts for fiscal 2011 mean these facilities cannot serve an additional 5 million patients (Zigmond, 8/8). 

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