Health Affairs February 28, 2023
Sherrie Wang Jonathan Gonzalez-Smith Cara Smith Elliott S. Fisher Mark D. Smith Mark B. McClellan Robert S. Saunders

“Safety-net” health care organizations are a critical backbone of the US healthcare system, providing care to millions regardless of their ability to pay. Despite significant variability in how the safety-net is characterized, a growing number of definitions identify safety-net providers based on the populations they serve: traditionally disadvantaged individuals, including historically marginalized racial and ethnic minorities, low-income, and rural communities — many of whom are often insured through Medicaid or lack insurance. Examples of safety-net institutions include (but are not limited to) community health centers, public and critical access hospitals, local health departments, community mental health centers, certified community behavioral health clinics, and special service providers such as family planning clinics and school-based health programs. Care in the safety-net can...

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