Health Safety Net: Collaborating for the Greater Good

Health Safety Net: Collaborating for the Greater Good

Posted on January 25, 2017 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

What is a “Health Safety Net” and why should we care?

These were two questions I recently posed to executives from four organizations — Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Florida Department of Health–Sarasota, Friendship Centers, and Community Health Centers of Sarasota County — responsible for providing a safety net for the uninsured and underinsured in Sarasota County.

What is a “Health Safety Net?” The Sarasota County Health Safety Net System of Care Collaboration brings organizations together that provide healthcare to the underinsured and uninsured providing healthcare to individuals earning less than 200% of the poverty level. The goal is to provide the right healthcare at the right time in the right setting to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. There is not enough money to support this “safety net,” so healthcare providers must work collaboratively to leverage each other’s assets.

Why should we care? In short, there are three primary reasons:

1) It is the right thing to do for citizens of Sarasota.

2) Healthcare impacts the quality of life for all people of Sarasota, not just those who have or don’t have insurance.

3) A properly functioning health safety net reduces the overall healthcare costs in Sarasota.

The past 2-years have seen a significant change in the local healthcare landscape and yet, throughout this challenging period, the executives of the health safety net continue to meet and discuss how to provide care to citizens in the Health Safety Net. The collaboration has remained steadfast, and the people of Sarasota have benefited as each provider observes the need to consider the greater good in making decisions which impact all parties.

2017 will continue to be challenging as the Community Health Centers of Sarasota County (CHCSC) become independent of the FL Department of Health–Sarasota (FL DOH). This transition of operating the Sarasota-based Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) from the FL DOH to the CHCSC is a mammoth effort, and each of the Health Safety Net providers has committed its support to help ensure a smooth transition.

The need for access to the right healthcare at the right time in the right setting for those who are underinsured and uninsured will continue and, as a result, the safety net providers will continue to work together to provide this access to our citizens.

Follow Michael on Twitter @michaelpcorley

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