Document Type


Publication Date



This background paper describes the history and political evolution of Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program and examines DSH as it exists today. It highlights the importance of DSH payments for the viability of safety net hospitals and considers the consequences of states’ creative financing strategies for maximizing federal Medicaid matching funds. Finally, this paper reviews several options for improving the structure and effectiveness of the DSH program.

Open Access



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.