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Blue Cross Providing Grants for Uninsured Patients' Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and Food Insecurity

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Posted at 10:57 AM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 11:58:17-04

LANSING, Mich. — For the 16th 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 lowcost health care for uninsured and vulnerable Michigan residents.

The program will help patients access medical, dental and mental health care services, including treatment for illness related to COVID-19, and obtain services for substance use disorder. Eligible clinics can now apply for grants through Friday, June 26.

Since the Strengthening the Safety Net grant program’s creation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has awarded more than $15 million to help provide needed health care services to those in need. “Through the Strengthening the Safety Net program, Blue Cross is able to support f free clinics across the state annually, as they work with patients to provide medical, dental and mental health care services,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Government, Strategy and Public Affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Partnership with these clinics is one way Blue Cross fulfils our social mission to expand access to health care services, enhance the quality of care and address major health issues to create a healthier Michigan.”

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports that 9.8% of adults ages 18 through 64 remain uninsured. Accessible and affordable care is critical for addressing unmet needs, disparities and communicable diseases. Last year, the Strengthening the Safety Net program helped provide care for more than 50,000 patients 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: Safety net clinics that provide episodic care and are open for limited hours and treat more than 100 uninsured and underinsured patients annually are eligible to apply for up to $15,000 to support their operations and additional integrated care.

2. Medical and dental homes: Clinics that serve as medical or dental homes and are open for at least 30 hours per week, or bill Medicaid, are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 to support team-based care. Awards at this level require a $10,000 match.

New to this year’s program, all Strengthening the Safety Net grantees are expected to educate patients about the coronavirus and refer them to treatment as needed; help patients and providers address stigma related to mental illness and substance use disorder and refer patients to mental health and substance abuse treatment whenever possible; and screen patients for food insecurity, as a regular function of care, and refer them to gardens, pantries, markets, meals and other available resources.

As in the past, grantees are expected to provide clinical services, health insurance enrollment services, quality assurance and referrals to services outside of the clinic that improve health. Grantees should continue to integrate medical, dental and behavioral health care when possible by providing integrated care directly or through partnerships. All grantees are expected to help reduce unnecessary emergency room use and respond effectively to the opioid overdose epidemic.

Clinics interested in applying for the Strengthening the Safety Net grants can obtain the application materials at bcbsm.com/safetynet. Questions can be emailed to safetynet@bcbsm.com. Grantees will be announced in July.

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