Section 5: Access to Care, Delivery Systems, and the Safety Net
To improve health outcomes in the long term, it will be important to ensure that all individuals are able to obtain needed primary and specialty health care services. Southerners have historically been more likely than those in other regions to report difficulty accessing and paying for needed care.
States are increasingly relying on a number of tools to improve provider capacity and reform the delivery of care including expanding the use of Medicaid managed care, increasing payment to providers, and revising scope of practice laws to allow nurse practitioners to treat patients with fewer restrictions. Even with improvements to the delivery and coordination of care, however, community health centers and other safety net providers in the South will likely continue to serve an important role in providing care to some of the region’s most vulnerable low-income populations including the uninsured, people of color, homeless individuals, and those with limited English proficiency.