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The National Partnership for the Health Care Safety Net

The National Partnership for the Health Care Safety Net is helping providers collaborate to improve patients’ access to high-quality health care. In 2013, America’s Essential Hospitals joined with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and the Department of Health Policy and Management at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (GW) to form the National Partnership. The group was awarded a three-year, $1.8 million grant by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit and The East Bay Community Foundation to help groups of providers navigate and adapt to the systemwide policy changes and accountability standards mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Collaborating to Inform and Implement Health Policy

Both community health centers and essential hospitals serve complex patients with various medical and social needs. As such, they both have unique infrastructure and capacity challenges. The partnership seeks to align their efforts to improve access and quality for their patients by helping them develop sustainable collaborations that can translate policy changes into effective practice changes.

Specifically, the National Partnership for the Health Care Safety Net does the following:

  • tracks the impact of the ACA on essential providers
  • identifies and improves the intersections between policy and practice to support local health care initiatives
  • examines how essential hospitals and health centers effectively collaborate to influence health policy

Empowering Change at the Community Level

As part of these efforts, the National Partnership uses high-quality, timely, and objective research to translate the meaning of policies and regulations to providers on the ground.

To date, the National Partnership has convened local partnerships and provided technical assistance and evidence-based analysis to four communities: Atlanta, Denver, Richmond, and Cleveland.

  • Atlanta: Originally launched in 2010, the Atlanta Safety Net Collaborative Initiative is working to improve quality and tackle access issues for thousands of patients. The Initiative comprises six local providers, all of which care disproportionally for the underserved. Their partnership and shared goals create a distinct opportunity to strengthen their ability to serve the community’s most vulnerable patients.
  • Denver: Denver Health is partnering with local organizations such as the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, as well as Kaiser Permanente, in developing a program to increase patient access to specialty care services. Using collaboration, care coordination, and a shared responsibility for providing this care among multiple providers, it may be possible to greatly expand access to specialty care for Denver’s underserved populations.
  • Richmond: Four essential health care providers in Richmond began working together in 2014 on a new, collaborative effort to assist with the costs of deductibles and copays for low-income individuals and families newly eligible for health insurance. The Richmond partners teamed up with several local partners and foundations to create the Health Exchange Financial Assistance initiative, a program that will assist with cost sharing for individuals and families who qualify for subsidies for premiums in the health insurance marketplace plans.
  • Cleveland: Providers in Cleveland are collaborating to increase outreach and Medicaid enrollment in their community. The Cleveland Partnership, comprising six organizations, aims to increase Medicaid enrollment and ensure the sustainability of Medicaid expansion in Ohio with outreach and enrollment process improvements and education for government officials and policymakers about the importance of Medicaid for Cleveland’s safety net providers and their patients.

Learn more about the National Partnership.


About the Author

Janelle Schrag is a senior program analyst with America's Essential Hospitals.