The Economic Recession

Early Impacts on Health Care Safety Net Providers

The recession has significantly increased demands on the health care safety net as millions of people have lost jobs and health insurance, but in some cases the impact on safety net providers has been less severe than expected. That’s according to a new Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) study of five communities—Cleveland; Greenville, S.C.; northern New Jersey; Phoenix; and Seattle.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded study looks at how federal stimulus funding, among other factors, has helped safety net providers weather the economic storm, partially offsetting reductions in state, local and private funding. But while safety net providers have stayed financially viable so far, the authors suggest that the safety net in these communities may have not yet felt the full weight of the recession. Unemployment and uninsured rates will likely remain high for some time, and demands on safety net providers could persist as stimulus funding ends.

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