Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Community Partners Address Growing Opioid Crisis in Michigan with $455,000 Grant Program

Brianna Neace

| 4 min read

A handful of medication
DETROIT, June 15, 2017 – With a shared mission of ending the opioid epidemic in Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and The Superior Health Foundation are jointly allocating $455,000 for the Taking Action on Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse in Michigan by Supporting Community Responses initiative. The partnership provides one-time grants to begin new projects, enhance or expand existing projects aimed at reducing opioid and prescription drug abuse and harm. “Opioid abuse is a rising concern among communities across our state, with more and more Michigan residents being impacted by the issue in some way every year,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “The partners behind this initiative are looking forward to joining efforts with community-based organizations that are proactively addressing the crisis and providing care and support to individuals in need.” Prescription drug and opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Michigan. The number of deaths from drug overdose has more than tripled from 1999 to 2015. A 2014 report from the Michigan Department of Community Health (now the Department of Health and Human Services) shows that Michigan experienced a four-fold increase in unintentional fatal drug poisonings since 1999. Overall, 4,722 Michigan residents died from 2009 to 2012 due to unintentional or undetermined intent poisonings. Of these overdose deaths, 19.4 percent were definitively opioid-related. “The opioid battle can’t be won by working in isolation. To tackle this crisis in all its complexity, it's critical that partners collaborate across sectors and industries to combat opioid misuse in our communities,” said Becky Cienki, senior program officer of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. “The Health Fund is pleased to join our funding partners in supporting these multi-sectoral initiatives.” Evidenced-based programs to address the epidemic in local communities, ranging from education to law enforcement to clinical interventions, will be considered. The funders will support projects in up to seven coalitions in Michigan communities over 18 months to identify and implement collective actions to prevent and reduce opioid and prescription drug misuse and address the harms they cause. Coalition membership should be comprised of at least one organization from each of the following areas:
  • Medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, such as medical associations, hospitals, emergency physician groups, medical groups and independent physician associations, community mental health organizations, federally qualified health centers, pharmacies and health plans
  • Public health and public safety organizations, such as a county public health or county health care delivery system, medical examiner, law enforcement, corrections and emergency medical responders
  • Other community organizations, such as schools, community-based organizations working with the population of interest, organizations representing families and community residents, and faith-based organizations
“We look forward to supporting programs and research that will have a lasting, positive impact on the individuals and families who are affected by substance abuse and addiction in our state,” said Audrey Harvey, vice president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. “Addressing the excess morbidities and mortalities associated with this epidemic aligns with our 35-year-history of improving health care for Michigan residents.” Jim LaJoie, executive director of the Superior Health Foundation, said, “The Superior Health Foundation (headquartered in Marquette) has taken a keen interest in the opioid addiction issue and is committed to finding evidence-based solutions to help address a problem that many in this country are referring to as an epidemic. We’re honored to join other funding partners across the state in committing grant dollars for an issue that is tearing apart families and costing lives.” Projects will be funded up to a maximum of $75,000 each for up to 18 months. Applications must be sent to by Wednesday, June 28. All instructions and application forms are available at and at You may also obtain the forms by sending an email to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation are independent licensees 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 and
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association