Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation awarded $70,000 in grants to the Genesee County Free Medical Clinic in support of treatment and medications for uninsured clinic patients transitioning into health plans for the first time. The project is expected to benefit nearly300 patients the first year of implementation, or 12 percent of the clinic’s caseload, and 150 patients the second year. The grant covers adults being discharged from emergency rooms and hospitals who are in need of primary care, medications and other follow-up care during their transition. “The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is proud to support Genesee County’s tireless health care partners and the outstanding work they’re doing to build a healthier community,” said Audrey Harvey, vice president, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. “We are excited to support some of the best health partners any community could ask for, and who have a proven track record of getting health care to people who need it most. This broad and diverse effort is vital to the future health of Genesee County.” The $70,000 includes a $50,000 Community Matching Grant from the Blue Cross Foundation combined with Blue Cross funds, to be implemented over two years. The grants were made to support the safety net partnership among Genesee County’s three hospitals, Genesee Health Plan, Hamilton Community Health Network and the free clinic. “The average cost of a visit to an emergency room is estimated to be 10 times higher than the Free Medical Clinic,” said Todd Anderson, director of Public Policy and Social Mission for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We’re proud to support this project in Genesee County, as it can be a model for effective, efficient healthcare delivery across Michigan.” A portion of the grant will help Genesee County Free Medical Clinic expand medical services and medications to patients between pending insurance coverages, while continuing to refer and enroll patients into Healthy Michigan. The grant will also help the clinic continue to provide medications for temporary patients when prescription assistance programs can’t be used. “Our community is very grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for the terrific support it is providing to Genesee County citizens who are in the middle of transitioning from uninsured to being covered,” said Dr. Rima Kudish, Genesee County Free Medical Clinic. “Despite the great strides we are making through health reform, we need to make sure our neighbors don’t fall through the cracks because of gaps in coverage. This grant will directly help hundreds of people get the care they need.” Genesee County Free Medical Clinic provides primary care, referrals to specialists, health education and prescriptions at no cost for people ages 18-65 or people with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. About 95 percent of the 2,500 patients the clinic serves annually are at or below that 200 percent threshold. “With this grant and with these hardworking partners, Genesee County patients can now get critical care after they leave the emergency room or a hospital,” said state Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, a member of the Senate Health Policy Committee and chair of the Greater Flint Health Coalition Board. “Projects like this can help make sure that no one gets left behind when it comes to meeting their health care needs.” In 2013, Genesee County ranked 76th among Michigan counties relative to a healthy physical environment for its citizens to live, and 77th relative for the practice of healthy behaviors. More than 12 percent of Genesee County residents lack health insurance, most of them working adults. Compared to those with public or private health insurance coverage, uninsured working adults are three times more likely to report not seeing a physician when needed, overuse emergency rooms and not receive preventive services.
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