Grants Available to Help Care for Uninsured Patients, Reduce Unnecessary ER Visits and Address Substance Use Disorder

by Blues Perspectives

| 3 min read

DETROIT, May 13, 2019 – For the 15th year, health care clinics across the state are invited to apply for grants through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Strengthening the Safety Net program. The program provides free or low-cost health care for uninsured and vulnerable Michigan residents. The program will help patients access medical, dental and mental health care services, avoid unnecessary emergency room visits, and obtain services for substance use disorder. Eligible clinics can now apply for grants through Friday, June 7. “Through the Strengthening the Safety Net program, Blue Cross has helped more than 50 clinics across the state provide a full range of medical, dental and mental health care services to patients in need,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Government, Strategy and Public Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “As we reflect on our 80th anniversary, we’re grateful to our many partners who continue working to improve health outcomes for Michigan residents.” According to Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 490,000 uninsured individuals in Michigan. The Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey determined that more than one million Michigan residents declined to seek medical care in the past 12 months due to costs, and more than three million reported no dental treatment in the previous year. Last year, the Strengthening the Safety Net program helped provide care for more than 50,000patients statewide. Clinics that provide free or low-cost medical, dental, mental health, vision and specialty care services can apply for the Strengthening the Safety Net grants in the following categories:
  1. Clinic operations: Clinics that provide urgent and episodic care and treat more than 100 uninsured or underinsured patients each year are eligible for up to $15,000 to support their operations and increase opioid awareness and treatment.
  2. Primary care: Clinics that provide primary care and are open for at least 30 hours per week are eligible for up to $25,000 to support team-based approaches to health care and increase opioid awareness and treatment. Funding at this level requires a $10,000 match.
New to this year’s program, all Strengthening the Safety Net grantees are developing additional services and stronger partnerships so that patients can access coordinated medical, dental and mental health care services. As in the past, grantees are expected to help reduce unnecessary emergency room use, raise awareness of the opioid epidemic among patients and staff and direct patients or their family members to services for substance use disorder as needed. They must follow appropriate opioid treatment and prescribing guidelines, utilizing the Michigan Automated Prescription System. Grantees will be expected to develop an extensive set of services and care with measurable goals for expanding access and integration, report progress and help patients understand Health Michigan Plan work requirements to obtain or retain their coverage. Clinics interested in applying for the Strengthening the Safety Net grants can obtain the application materials at Questions can be emailed to Grantees will be announced in July. 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 health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit and

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