DETROIT, June 20, 2018 – Health care delivered to the uninsured. Help for people afflicted by opioid addiction. Lower health insurance costs for low-income seniors. Expanded youth soccer programs for kids in Detroit. School-based programs to prevent childhood obesity. These are just a few of the many initiatives supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which invested nearly $67 million in 2017 – more than $6 per Michigan resident – to support community-based, health-related programs and services. Overall, Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the United States invested $284 million in their respective communities in 2017, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which published its Health of America Community Investment Report today. In addition to the nearly $7 million in direct BCBSM contributions included in the report, BCBSM made a payment of $60 million to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, which invests that money independently to support a variety of initiatives aimed at protecting Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. “As Michigan’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross is pleased to continue our longstanding support of Michigan residents in their quest to live healthier lives,” said Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Through our ongoing support of community-based initiatives, we strive to increase access to affordable health care, enhance the quality of care patients receive and improve health. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s contributions to in 2017 far exceed those of many of our national competitors. Our contributions last year to Michigan-based organizations are four times what some national health plans contributed to communities across the county.” Among other notable community efforts from Blues plans nationwide, the Health of America report highlighted the Michigan Blues and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation’s efforts to combat the state’s opioid crisis. Specifically, the two entities’ partnership with the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Superior Health Foundation to assist communities in implementing sustainable, evidence-based practices that address the epidemic. In 2017, nine community coalitions across the state received a total of $570,400 in funding through the Taking Action on Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse in Michigan by Supporting Community Responses Initiative. From education to law enforcement, the grants will be used to begin new projects and enhance or expand existing projects aimed at reducing opioid and prescription drug abuse in more than 30 counties in every region statewide. Blue Cross has made this widespread concern a top priority by creating an internal, cross-functional task force comprised of company representatives who work to develop comprehensive and coordinated approaches to tackling the issue. “Addressing the opioid crisis is a critical component of our community support efforts,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Opioid overdose deaths have tripled in Michigan in the past five years, so we know these types of programs are needed to provide solutions for those affected and their loved ones.” Nationally, BCBSA’s report showed Blues plans making significant impact within their own communities throughout 2017. Last year, $17 million in total employee donations were made by all 36 independent BCBS companies, with $701,200 being from Michigan for the Michigan Association of United Ways alone. Blues plans also logged more than 540,600 volunteer hours and contributed $5 million to disaster relief efforts. Data outlining key areas of focus for national BCBS companies showed a 35 percent concentration on improving health care access, 26 percent on enabling healthy living, 20 percent on improving health care quality and affordability and 19 percent to addressing social determinants of health. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to support each of these segment areas through various programs statewide. Examples of some of Blue Cross’ additional ongoing community health initiatives include the following: Michigan Health Endowment Fund
- The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, created through Public Act 4 of 2013, authorized certain changes on how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan operates. Over 18 years, Blue Cross will make payments of up to $1.56 billion to benefit Michigan children and seniors in the areas of Medigap subsidies, behavioral health, healthy aging, access to healthy food, wellness and fitness, infant mortality, technology enhancements, health-related transportation and foodborne illness prevention. To date, Blue Cross has paid $355 million to the fund, with $60 million provided in 2017 alone.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation
- Last year, a total of 107 grants were awarded to support organizations and individuals working on innovative health care research and programming courtesy of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, a nonprofit organization with more than 35 years of funding experience. As of April 2018, the Blue Cross Foundation and statewide partners have given more than $2 million to enable community organizations, researchers and health care experts to identify and address critical health issues affecting Michigan residents. Each year, the Blue Cross Foundation provides funding through five targeted grant programs – investigator initiated, physician investigator, community health matching, request for proposal and student award programs.
Strengthening the Safety Net
- Blue Cross is the single largest private funder of Michigan’s free clinics, providing over $789,000 in grants funding to free clinics in 2017 alone. The Strengthening the Safety Net grant program helps strengthen and stabilize access to health care for those without coverage by supporting safety net clinics. These clinics provide uninsured and underinsured residents with a place to receive basic health care and preventive care services. Since 2005, Blue Cross has awarded more than $13 million in grants to safety net clinics to expand their ability to serve patients with limited access to healthcare. The grants have enabled clinics to care for more than 74,000 people annually and have accounted for more than one million patient medical visits. In 2017, 47 grants were awarded to clinics in 28 counties located throughout the state.
Building Healthy Communities
- Blue Cross founded the Building Healthy Communities program in 2009 to fight childhood obesity and help children lead healthier lives. Since then, the program has grown into a partnership with several statewide organizations to address children’s health. Building Healthy Communities is a comprehensive, school-wide program designed to educate students on healthy habits, create an environment that promotes wellness, provide opportunities for regular physical activity and improve access to nutritious food and beverages. In 2017, Blue Cross provided $700,000 to help fund the program. To date, the program has reached more than 270,000 students in more than 600 schools across Michigan.
For more information on the BCBSA Health of America Community Investment Report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica. To find additional information related to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s community investments, visit www.mibluesperspectives.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 4.6 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.