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Urban Safety-Net

March 12, 2008

Why the Urban Safety-Net?

Urban Western New York's health care safety-net for low-income uninsured and underinsured is porous and in need of reinforcement. Urban residents face great challenges in accessing quality primary care, and even greater difficulties in obtaining specialized care such as oral and behavioral or mental health services. Those with public insurance fare somewhat better, although access is compromised by physician practices that either do not accept these plans or are closed to new patients. Coordination within the system is haphazard, with a centralized information source lacking. More importantly, the Western New York community lacks consensus about what the urban safety-net should be able to accomplish for the poor and underserved.


Sharon A. Baskerville, Executive Director, DC Primary Care Association
Highly regarded for her work in health care reform and coalition building, Baskerville began her career in the District of Columbia safety-net system more than 20 years ago. As head of the DC Primary Care Association since 1998, Baskerville has worked to build an integrated primary care system that guarantees access to quality health care for all and eliminates health care disparities. The DCPCA has become a powerful player in health care issues in the District of Columbia, and in 2003 pioneered the 10-year, $145 million Medical Homes DC initiative to locate primary and specialty care facilities and qualified health providers in underserved neighborhoods.

Ruben P. Cowart, DDS, President and CEO, Syracuse Community Health Center
Since founding Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC) in 1977 Cowart has served as its President & CEO. He has led the organization's growth from a single primary care site to a multi-system health care entity that provides comprehensive services to approximately 65,000 central New York residents at 11 different service delivery sites. SCHC employs more than 450 individuals and staffs nearly 100 care providers including physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, radiologists, certified nurse midwives, ophthalmologists and podiatrists with an operational budget of more than $72 million. SCHC has been recognized by the National Center for Health Policy Studies for its high-quality, cost-effective delivery system and is regarded as one of the nation's premier health care organizations.

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