Health Care Safety Net Center - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health Care Safety Net Center

Health & Medicine’s Health Care Safety Net Center initiative works to strengthen the safety net—such as the protection of charity care in area hospitals—in Cook County and across Illinois. As health reforms are enacted locally and national, our health systems reform leadership is central to developing thoughtful implementation strategies to expand care for all Illinois residents while also assuring that stakeholder voices are heard and integrated into new policies.

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In this age of austerity and political divide, ensuring health services for all is a critical task.  With traditional “safety net” populations becoming even more vulnerable,  it is more important than ever to consider health systems reforms that improve the social determinants of health (education, income inequality, employment, housing, transportation, etc.), increase prevention activities and early interventions, and improve access to quality healthcare services.  Health & Medicine’s safety net initiative seeks to ensure a more seamless health system that works for all, especially the uninsured, underinsured, and underserved.

In the last several years, Health & Medicine’s health policy and health systems reform leadership has been essential to carrying out Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation and state health reform initiatives in Illinois. Health & Medicine’s greatest strength is our reputation among government, private and non-profit partners as an “honest broker” and trusted authority on all aspects of health policy, with particular expertise in safety net issues. We build coalitions across all sectors to align efforts and maximize the potential of reform. We interpret federal and state policy for local systems by researching best practices, convening stakeholders and building consensus to facilitate successful policy implementation and achieve the essential goal of the ACA and state reforms: expanded health coverage.


  • New Report: A Checkup for Cook County’s Safety Net: A Qualitative Review of Health Reform

    December 17, 2019

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) precipitated a decade of reforms and reactions that have made a distinct impact on the Cook County health care safety net. “Reform” in health care encompasses a complex interplay of changes, forces, structures, and agents—including official legislation and rulemaking as well as the responses of government agencies, health care providers, […]

  • New Reports Focus on Helping the Safety Net Navigate the Challenges and Opportunity of Health Reform

    May 4, 2018

    Health & Medicine's Health Equity Initiative recently completed a research project examining how the ACA and state level health reforms can support the move toward health equity and stronger communities in the Chicago area with a specific focus on the Western Suburbs. This research led to two papers that are available now.

  • Action Alert: Protect Consumers from Unregulated Health Plans

    May 2, 2018

    Protect Our Care Illinois--of which Health & Medicine is a member--urges you to take action today to stop junk insurance. We are calling on the General Assembly to pass the Short-Term, Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act, SB2388 SFA1 to protect consumers from these unregulated health plans that don’t meet ACA standards!

  • Call Your Congressperson Today to Stop the BCRA

    June 27, 2017

    Health & Medicine Policy Research Group condemns the recent assault on the health safety net. The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), like the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) is an attack on the American people, developed behind closed doors specifically because its provisions are so unpopular. Their hope is the less sunlight shined on this proposal, the more likely it is to pass. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the BCRA bill and predicts 22 million people would lose coverage if it were passed, an unprecedented move in the wrong direction. We urge action! Call your U.S. Congressperson to let them know that you want them to help kill the bill!

  • Health & Medicine Releases New Report on “Strengthening the Safety Net in Illinois After Health Reform”

    June 1, 2017

    In late 2016, Health & Medicine completed new research on the Cook County safety net in partnership with Loyola and others to capture how this reformed environment has impacted Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), free and charitable clinics (FCCs), and hospitals. Our report, Strengthening the Safety Net in Illinois After Health Reform: An Examination of the Cook County Safety Net, is designed to deepen understanding of a sampling of the safety net in Cook County while providing recommendations for policymakers and philanthropy, as well as identifying areas for further research to guide health reform and policy.

  • Health & Medicine Issues Statement on Passage of ACA Repeal

    May 4, 2017

    Health & Medicine’s Executive Director Margie Schaps today released a statement on the passage of the American Health Care Act. We at Health & Medicine stand in solidarity with the over 60% of Americans who believe that the government should be responsible for ensuring health coverage for all Americans. We are horrified by the vote just taken in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, thereby removing health coverage for 24million people.