Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan presented the Free Clinic of Alpena with $15,000 in grant funding today to help underserved and uninsured people in the region gain access to health care services as part of Blue Cross’ Strengthening the Safety Net grant program. Last year, clinic volunteers handled more than 1,300 cases. The clinic also provided 72 patients with dental vouchers for service and treatment at partner Dental Clinics North. More than 15 percent of the Alpena County population has no health insurance. “Without these clinics, patients would delay and even forego medical treatment at great cost to themselves, their families and the health care system,” said Jeff Connolly, senior vice president of Large Group Business and president of West Michigan at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “They are an extremely important part of Michigan’s safety net.” With the distribution of the 2014 Strengthening the Safety Net grants, Blue Cross has provided more than $10 million to support safety net providers across Michigan since the grant program was created in 2005. The grants have enabled clinics to care for more than 60,000 people annually and have accounted for more than 1 million patient medical visits. The 2014 grants can be applied to daily operations and enrollment assistance for the Healthy Michigan Plan. “On behalf of our patients and our all-volunteer staff at the Free Clinic of Alpena I want to express our gratitude to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for supporting free clinics like ours, helping thousands of uninsured people get treatment and care for a wide range of health care needs,” said Steven Hammond, PA-C, clinic director of the Free Clinic of Alpena. “Our volunteers see firsthand the need for care in the rural communities that we serve. We are seeing more demand even as our resources dwindle, so this grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is vital to building a healthy community here in northeast Michigan.” The Strengthening the Safety Net grant was presented at the Free Clinic of Alpena on Friday, Nov. 7. For more information on Blue Cross’ Strengthening the Safety Net program, visit bcbsm.com. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.
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