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WFU law school co-sponsors ‘The Health Care Safety Net in a Post-Reform World’ public policy forum on Wednesday, Oct. 17

The Wake Forest University School of Law is co-sponsoring a public policy forum, “The Health Care Safety Net in a Post-Reform World,” on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

This health policy, law and ethics forum focuses on the book, “The Health Care Safety Net in a Post-Reform World (2012),” recently published by Rutgers University Press. The forum will be held from  10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at George Washington University in the Marvin Center (Student Union), Room 309, 800 21st Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

The event will be live-streamed in Room 1312 of the Worrell Professional Center on the campus of Wake Forest University. The live-streamed portion of the forum is free and open to the public.

The public policy forum will include presentations by the book’s co-authors Mark A. Hall, Wake Forest University; and Sara Rosenbaum, George Washington University; as well as commentators Michael K. Gusmano, Hastings Center; Dayna Matthew, University of Colorado; Julia Paradise, Kaiser Family Foundation; and Anthony Shih, Commonwealth Fund.

“Leading up to the Presidential elections, health care reform will continue to be hotly debated,” Hall says.  “Regardless of its outcome, this public policy forum is a great opportunity to understand how health insurance reform, or its repeal, will affect the critical role of ‘safety net’ providers in providing access to care for uninsured or newly insured people.”

Among the topics planned for discussion are:

  • Serving those who remain uninsured following reform;
  • Funding and capacity of community health centers and safety net hospitals;
  • How best to serve disadvantaged people who are newly insured;
  • And access to care by undocumented immigrants

Other forum co-sponsors are the Wake Forest University Center for Bioethics Health and Society; the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research.

According to Rutgers University Press, “The Health Care Safety Net in a Post-Reform World” examines how national health care reform will impact safety net programs that serve low-income and uninsured patients. The “safety net” refers to the collection of hospitals, clinics, and doctors who treat disadvantaged people, including those without insurance, regardless of their ability to pay. Despite comprehensive national health care reform, over twenty million people will remain uninsured. And many of those who obtain insurance from reform will continue to face shortages of providers in their communities willing or able to serve them. As the demand for care grows with expanded insurance, so will the pressure on an overstretched safety net.

This book, with contributions from leading health care scholars, is the first comprehensive assessment of the safety net in over a decade. Rather than view health insurance and the health care safety net as alternatives to each other, it examines their potential to be complementary aspects of a broader effort to achieve equity and quality in health care access. It also considers whether the safety net can be improved and strengthened to a level that can provide truly universal access, both through expanded insurance and the creation of a well-integrated and reasonably supported network of direct health care access for the uninsured.

Seeing safety net institutions as key components of post-health care reform in the United States—as opposed to stop-gap measures or as part of the problem—is a bold idea. And as presented in this volume, it is an idea whose time has come.