Strength begets strength when it comes to the efficacy of federal health grants targeting community safety net programs for the uninsured, but the Center for Studying Health System Change reports today that two federal funding mechanisms do help improve care.
Communities, such as Boston, with strong safety net programs in place, receive more and do more with the federal dollars they do receive than do communities with fewer safety net services, according to the not for profit organization, which is funded largely by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"It's a case of the strong getting stronger," says Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of HSC, in a statement released with the report, "Federal Aid Strengthens Health Care Safety Net," which is available online at hschange.org.
The report was based on site visits in 2002 and 2003 to 12 communities HSC studies as part of its ongoing research.
The two federal funding efforts cited in the report are one aimed at expanding the reach of existing community health centers and another , the Community Access Program, which provides grants to enhance collaboration and coordination among safety net providers.
While both programs appear to have made a difference, the report s says limited funding hampers their potential impact.
Strong leadership and management of CHC programs and their financial viability were key variables in determining whether communities were more successful than others in obtaining federal assistance for their safety net programs, the HSC study said.
The government could help level the playing field by providing technical and grantsmanship assistance to the communities having difficulty with their safety net systems, HSC says.