Safety net clinics: Doing more with less (and less, and less...)

This year, CHI has had a bird’s-eye view of the happenings at the State Capitol. We hosted a series of “roundtables” on timely health policy topics. We have met with legislators as they have navigated the very tricky waters of budget cuts and belt tightening.  It’s a difficult task to find a cool billion to cut from our collective operating expenses.  First and foremost, we should acknowledge the admirable effort of all 100 representatives and senators of the General Assembly.

Fast forward to last week, when I spent a day with leaders of safety net clinics from around the state. By and large, they are all on the cold, receiving end of budget cuts. When Medicaid represents about one-quarter of state spending, slashes to these organizations are all but inevitable. It’s the reality of today’s world. These organizations are stoic and stalwart, having faced similar cuts before. They know – unfortunately – how to do more with less. Innovation abounds and they too should be commended.

We all need to keep in mind that whether “reform” happens in the way it’s planned, or in some Colorado edited version or not at all, we will continue to have “vulnerable populations” that will need voice and representation within both our health care and political systems. CHI continues to describe, quantify and qualify the uninsured, underinsured and otherwise vulnerable. It’s our task and mission so that health care providers and legislators have the information they need for the delicate balance of helping these Coloradans while making tough decisions to keep the state solvent.

Michele Lueck is the president and CEO of CHI.