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Report: Strengthening the Safety Net in Illinois After Health Reform

  • Overview


Click here to download a PDF of Strengthening the Safety Net in Illinois After Health Reform.

The healthcare landscape in Illinois has changed dramatically over the past several years in response to both Federal and state health reform. Today, some three to five years after implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the shift to managed care in Illinois, the safety net is still responding to these monumental shifts in care financing and delivery.

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.

This study was unique from others that examine the safety net in that it intentionally asked participants to discuss both the anticipated effects and the unintended consequences of health reform implementation. Key themes include:
  • The challenge of navigating the changing insurance and provider landscape
  • Continued barriers to access as services remained unaffordable even with reform
  • The need for greater support for quality improvement activities as well as enhanced capacity to respond to the demand for patient-centered care that addresses social determinants of health
These anticipated and unintended consequences have required FCCs, FQHCs, and hospitals to constantly adapt to the reformed environment and have revealed the depth of each of the systems’ organizational capacity and assets.

Our report 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.