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Testing a Model of County Government Influence on Health Care Safety-Nets

JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 1, (2012)

In the United States, health care is not equitably distributed. As indicated in the literature, age, income, and other socio-economic indicators contribute to substantial differences in the variety and scope of health services. The 2010 Affordable Care Act illustrates the United States’ effort to bring balance and equity to the health care system. In the meantime, county governments are struggling with rising health care costs on their budgets (Eaton, 2009; Phaup, 2009; Clark, 2003), particularly health care for low-income residents (Benton, Byers, Cigler, Klase, Menzel, Salant, Streib, Svara, & Waugh, 2008). However, as learned in this study, county governments across the country continue to address the health care needs of uninsured and underinsured citizens through participation in health care safety nets. This research identifies possible county government influences on health care safety-nets. This study analyzed 123 responses from county government administrators and elected officials along with secondary data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the International City/County Manager Association using a variety of statistical techniques, culminating in structural equation modeling. These analyses provided reasonable explanation for the variation among the variables leading to network performance improvement in meeting the health care needs of uninsured and underinsured people as well as the significant influence of county government involvement.

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