Health Centers’ Role as Safety Net Providers for Medicaid Patients and the Uninsured

This issue paper profiles the role America's health centers have played in providing care for Medicaid patients and the uninsured. The paper presents information on health center patients and revenue sources and analyzes similarities and differences both between health centers and private practices and among health centers. These centers perform a unique role in the American health care system as nearly 85 percent of their patients are low-income and more than a third of their revenue comes from the Medicaid program, compared with less than 10 percent for most physician practices. This issue paper also reviews trends in health center patients and funding and concludes with an assessment of current challenges facing health centers.