Blue Cross Strengthens Health Care Safety Net, Awarding Nearly $900,000 to Clinics

Erica Stamatoulakis

| 3 min read

Close up of a senior woman having a doctors appointment
DETROIT, August 23, 2022 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today announced its 18th annual Strengthening the Safety Net program recipients. Forty-seven Michigan clinics were granted awards, totaling $880,000, to continue providing free or low-cost medical, dental and behavioral health services in addition to vision and pharmaceutical assistance to uninsured or vulnerable Michigan residents. Since 2005, Blue Cross has awarded $18 million to safety net health clinics throughout Michigan. Strengthening the Safety Net grantees will serve more than 65,000 vulnerable Michigan residents this year targeting their services to those who are uninsured or underinsured. It is estimated that, since the beginning of Blue Cross’ safety net grant program, over 220,000 patients have been served by grantee clinics. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the single largest private funder of Michigan’s free clinics. “Access to affordable health care and improving health equity are core to Blue Cross’ historic social mission,” said Ken Hayward, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations. “Strengthening the Safety Net is a hallmark program showing our steadfast commitment to improving the health and well-being of everyone in Michigan. The program also reminds us that we need to continue closing the gap in accessibility and quality of care in innovative ways and through collaborative partnerships with our clinic providers and local communities.” The breadth of services each safety net clinic offers spans from primary care to behavioral, dental and pharmaceutical services. Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, clinics were asked to encourage patients to return for routine care and also to strengthen relationships with their local public health departments. This year’s program data shows:
  • Over 95% of safety net clinics provide primary care services.
  • Nearly half of the clinics provide dental services or are co-located with a safety net dental care provider.
  • More than 75% provide behavioral health care or are co-located with a behavioral health care provider.
  • Approximately 68% provide pharmaceutical assistance.
In addition to care, nine safety net clinics offer services bilingually and bi-culturally. Clinics also offer patient navigation as a care option. Patient navigators are focused on providing patient assistance with obtaining Healthy Michigan Plan or other coverage, health education and assistance, as well as referrals to behavioral health care providers, food assistance programs, and others. Grantee leaders are required to participate in unconscious bias education and encouraged staff and volunteers to also complete training. An overview of this year’s organizations receiving Strengthening the Safety Net grants is below. The following health care homes, or clinics, offer services for at least 30 hours per week, were awarded up to $25,000 each:
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The following clinics, which provide urgent and episodic care and treat more than 100 uninsured or underinsured patients each year, were awarded up to $15,000 each:
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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 more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more 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