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Project Launched to Build Safety Net Capacity, Collaboration

July 30, 2013

America’s Essential Hospitals, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) have launched a Kaiser Permanente-funded project to help the safety net prepare for and realize the promise of expanded health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A $1.8 million grant from Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit arm will support the three-year project, which will align hospitals, clinics, and other components of the safety net toward meeting new demands for access and quality and foster collaboration to build medical homes.

“This partnership between America’s Essential Hospitals, NACHC, and SPHHS is a timely signal to the safety net that integration and collaboration are critical to improving health care access and quality,” said Winston F. Wong, MD, medical director, Community Benefit, and director, Disparities Improvement and Quality Initiatives, at Kaiser Permanente. “These organizations are particularly well-positioned to lead the way nationally and, in partnership with their members, to meet the needs of the low-income, newly insured, and residual uninsured.”

“We’re extremely pleased to partner with NACHC and SPHHS and to have Kaiser Permanente’s generous support,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, formerly the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. “As frontline providers for vulnerable people, our members and NACHC members will be keys to achieving the ACA’s coverage and quality goals.” America’s Essential Hospitals will participate through its research affiliate, the Essential Hospitals Institute (formerly the National Public Health and Hospital Institute).

The partnership responds to capacity challenges the ACA poses for the nation’s safety net by building an infrastructure to ensure access to health care coverage and affordable, high-quality, coordinated care. The project will strengthen integration and collaboration between hospitals and community health centers and create a forum at the national, regional, and state levels for understanding relevant ACA policy issues and spreading best practices.

“For the first time, America’s Essential Hospitals, NACHC, and SPHHS have partnered in a joint initiative to improve access to high-quality, coordinated care,” said NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden. “We are proud to take part in this unprecedented effort to ensure that safety net providers successfully create collaborations that transform the entire safety net.”

The partnership leverages SPHHS’ abundant research expertise to complement the on-the-ground experience and existing quality improvement work of the Essential Hospitals Institute Transformation Center and the NACHC Quality Center.

“We’re honored that we are a part of this partnership to build safety net capacity across the United States, and especially in underserved communities,” said Paula M. Lantz, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy at SPHHS. “At SPHHS, we will assess the effort to expand the safety net and help ensure that coalitions have all the tools and resources they need to meet the challenge and opportunity afforded by the ACA.”

To spark collaboration among stakeholders nationally and in the states, the partnership will identify five states or regions in greatest need of targeted assistance to create a stakeholder support network as a model for other areas. The project will assess safety net providers’ preparedness for the expected influx of newly insured patients; provide evidence-based tools, reports, and technical assistance to communities to help build capacity; and evaluate progress toward improvements in coverage, care coordination, and patient experience.

A key project goal will be to identify safety net collaborations that successfully integrate care to ensure seamless transitions from enrollment to participation in medical homes and referrals to other safety net providers. Although safety net providers are well-positioned to help previously uninsured individuals navigate the health care system, they must build capacity to do so, especially for complex patients discharged back into medically underserved communities.

Through this project, safety net providers can help lay the groundwork for successful Medicaid expansion and launch of insurance exchanges. In states still undecided about expanded coverage under the ACA, the project can educate decision-makers about how coverage decisions will affect their communities.

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals, formerly the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, is the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has initiated, advanced, and preserved programs and policies that help these hospitals ensure access to care. It supports members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education.

Our more than 200 members are vital to their communities, providing primary care through trauma care, disaster response, health professionals training, research, public health programs, and other services. They innovate and adapt to lead the broader health care community toward more effective and efficient care. Visit to learn more.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We serve over 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:

About the National Association of Community Health Centers
Founded in 1970, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and expand access to quality, community-responsive health care for America’s medically underserved and uninsured. NACHC represents the nation’s network of over 1,200 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) which serve over 22 million people through over 9,000 sites located in all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.

About the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Established in July 1997, the School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education and is now the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school now offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, which allows students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

Carl Graziano


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