Access to health care for the medically indigent has emerged as a major policy issue throughout the United States. Because no national health program ensures entitlement to basic services, practitioners and patients must cope with barriers to access on the local level. We report several separate but integrated strategies that a community-based coalition has used to achieve improvements in indigent care within a single county. Research strategies have involved shortterm investigations of barriers to needed services so that local awareness of the problem would increase rapidly. Political strategies have attempted to improve the county government's administrative procedures and financial support of services for the poor, to modify the practices of local health care institutions, and to influence state and national policies that affect local conditions. Legal strategies have involved the participation of attorneys who represent clients unable to receive care and who could initiate litigation as appropriate. Each of these strategies contains weaknesses as well as strengths. Although such advocacy efforts do not achieve a coherent system that guarantees access, they can substantially improve the availability of local services.
Mayster V, Waitzkin H, Hubbell FA, Rucker L. Local Advocacy for the Medically IndigentStrategies and Accomplishments in One County. JAMA. 1990;263(2):262–268. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020096040