By Rebecca Crepin, Senior Data Analyst for the Colorado Health Institute

The health care safety net serves as the primary source of care for Colorado’s most vulnerable residents. With more than 800,000 uninsured Coloradans, historically high public health insurance caseloads and escalating health care costs, the safety net plays a crucial role in the state’s health care system.

The safety net consists of clinics offering medical, behavioral and oral health care to low-income, uninsured and underinsured individuals and people enrolled in publicly funded health insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), regardless of their ability to pay.

A little over a month ago, August 5-11, the nation’s community health centers were recognized during National Health Center Week. Following that, August 20-24, was the third annual Safety Net Clinic Week sponsored by ClinicNET and the Colorado Rural Health Center.  In acknowledgment of both events, and to educate the public and policymakers about safety net clinics in Colorado, CHI has published a series of new tools:

Safety Net Primer
The Safety Net Primer provides an overview of the health care safety net in Colorado. It provides updated information on the types of safety net clinics, the individuals who use the safety net, and the funding sources needed to operate these clinics.

Safety Net Clinic Database
For the first time, CHI is publishing our database of Colorado safety net clinics. These clinics include community health centers (or Federally Qualified Health Centers); community mental health centers; community-based dental clinics; community-funded safety net clinics; critical access hospitals; hospital emergency departments; local public health departments and public nursing services; rural health clinics; and school-based health centers. The database includes a list of these clinics with information including type of clinic, address, website, etc.

Safety Net Clinic Map
The Safety Net Clinic Map gives a pictorial view of where all of these clinics in the Safety Net Clinic Database are located throughout the state.

These tools complement CHI’s existing safety net resources, including an examination of specialty care availability in Colorado’s safety net, estimates of adults and children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and CHP+, and a convening focused on the Medicaid Accountable Care Collaborative. CHI is committed to providing objective and timely information on the constantly evolving picture of Colorado’s health care safety net.

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