Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan awards Genesee County Free Clinic grant to help more uninsured get health care

Dec. 4, 2013

FLINT, Mich.  Genesee County Free Medical Clinic received a $17,500 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to help the uninsured get access to health care and treatment. The grant will help Genesee County Free Medical Clinic strengthen its ability to provide dental care to uninsured patients in the region, which faces a shortage of dental services.

The grant is part of more than $1 million in grants awarded by BCBSM for the ninth consecutive year to safety net clinics across Michigan to help more uninsured people get treatment and care. As part of its commitment to increasing access to quality health care services and improving the health status of all Michigan residents, through its Strengthening the Safety Net program, BCBSM continuously supports the uninsured and underinsured in the state by providing grants to locally operated, nonprofit clinics that provide health care. The grants serve to help safety net clinics with daily operations and enhance the services they offer. BCBSM has given away more than $9 million to the state’s safety net since 2005. This year, grants to over 50 safety net clinics across the state could be used for operations, access to benefits or dental care.

“Dental care and preventive treatment are increasingly important to the overall health of Genesee County citizens and this grant will help us make a real positive difference in the lives of many families,” said Dr. Rima Kumish, executive director of Genesee County Free Medical Clinic. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a valued partner, working closely with our community to improve health outcomes. Our partnership is vital to building a healthier Genesee County.”

Genesee County Free Medical Clinic serves approximately 2,500 patients without health insurance annually, providing primary care, pharmaceutical assistance, referrals to specialty care and dental treatments that can be expanded with the BCBSM grant. Dental care is in critical need in Genesee County: In 2008, more than 13,000 emergency room visits were attributed to dental neglect. Oral health can have a direct impact on overall health. Research from the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated possible associations between chronic oral infections and diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke and low birth weight or premature births. Poor dental health can also lead to absenteeism and lower school performance among children and absences from work among adults.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to support clinics, health professionals and volunteers across Michigan who are dedicated to helping every single family in their community get the care and treatment they need to be healthy,” said Kim Kratz, BCBSM senior health care analyst. “Safety net clinics provide access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable, uninsured Michiganders and without these clinics, patients would delay and even forego care at great cost to themselves, their families and the health care system. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is excited to continue our partnership with these clinics for a healthier Michigan together.”

Genesee County is ranked 80th among all Michigan counties on health outcomes, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, County Health Ranking and Roadmaps. More than 50,000 county residents have no health insurance and 48 percent of county children are eligible for free lunch. In addition to dental needs, the county also lags in other health areas: It has one mental health provider for every 6,900 residents, twice the state average.

Clinics that applied for BCBSM’s safety net grants are being awarded funds ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 each. 

The grant was presented to Genesee County Medical Clinic on Monday, Dec. 2 in Flint, Mich. For more information on the BCBSM Strengthening the Safety Net program, please visit

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