Task Force on North Carolina Healthcare Safety Net

In 2003, there were more than 1.4 million uninsured North Carolinians. The lack of insurance coverage affects the uninsured person and his or her family, and also has an impact on health care institutions that have a mission to serve the uninsured. The NCIOM Safety Net Task Force explored ways to strengthen and expand the existing safety net to better meet the healthcare needs of the uninsured. This report presents their findings and recommendations.
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Co-Chairs
Carmen Hooker Odum
Secretary
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Sherwood Smith, JD
Chairman Emeritus
Carolina Power & Light
In January 2004, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust awarded funding to the North Carlina Institute of Medicine to study the adequacy and financial viability of the current healthcare safety-net structure and to develop models to better integrate existing resources. The safety-net system--including community and migrant health centers, rural health clinics, free clinics, Project Access models, local health departments, school-based health clinics, hospital outpatient and emergency rooms and teaching clinics--are a major source of care for the more than 1.4 million uninsured people in North Carolina.

The number of uninsured has risen recently, leading to an increased number of people seeking health care from safety-net providers. Yet, federal and state funding has not increased to subsidize the care of those seeking services. The goal of this Task Force initiative was to develop a plan to better coordinate and integrate existing safety-net institutions, identify communities with inadequate systems to care for the uninsured and underinsured, identify possible funding sources (nationally and locally) to expand care to the uninsured, and expand and strengthen the capacity of healthcare providers and safety-net institutions to care for underserved populations.

Carmen Hooker Odom, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, and Sherwood Smith, JD, Chair Emeritus of Carolina Power and Light, co-chaired the Task Force. Representatives from community health centers, rural health clinics, free clinics, local health departments, school based health clinics, project access models, hospitals, legislators, county commissioners, advocates, business, faith and community leaders were also invited to participate in this endeavor.