ANN ARBOR—Financial pressures throughout the health care delivery system and the growing ranks of the uninsured are putting tremendous strain on safety net health care organizations, the last resort for uninsured people in need of health services.
A two-year study, which began Oct. 1 at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, will look at how safety net organizations in Michigan are coping with the current environment. The study will provide information on the nature and scope of the health care safety net in Michigan and on the strategies safety net organizations have devised in response to reduced resources.
Peter Jacobson, associate professor of health management and policy, is principal investigator on the effort. Carol Weisman, professor of health management and policy, and Toby Citrin, adjunct professor of health management and policy, are co-investigators.
The study's primary goal is to understand the strategies that safety net organizations have considered and implemented to survive. Researchers plan to focus on: What survival strategies have Michigan's safety net providers considered, developed or implemented?; What worked and what did not, and why?; What policies contribute to successful survival strategies for safety net providers?
Research results are expected to assist safety net providers in planning to meet their clients' needs, as well as to help state and local lawmakers address threats to safety net organizations, Jacobson said.
"The growth of managed care and changes in the way health care is financed, among other factors, have affected the way Michigan's safety net providers do business," Jacobson said. "We hope to understand how safety net providers deal with the new challenges and to make recommendations that will improve health care services for the populations served by safety net organizations."
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is funding the project with a two-year, $174,658 grant.
To learn more about the School of Public Health, an institution focusing on creating and disseminating knowledge to prevent disease and promote the health of populations in the United States and worldwide, visit www.sph.umich.edu. The Department of Health Management and Policy: www.sph.umich.edu/hmp/