Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan awards Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center $100,000 grant to help thousands of uninsured get health care

Dec. 17, 2013

GWINN, Mich. –– Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan presented the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center with a $100,000 grant Friday, allowing the clinic to significantly expand health care services at clinics in Houghton and Calumet. The grant will allow the Center to address depression and substance abuse in patients age 13 years and up, and integrate primary and behavioral care offerings. 

Since 2005, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has awarded more than $9 million to safety net clinics to help care for the uninsured and underinsured through its Strengthening the Safety Net grant program. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provides grants to support free clinics throughout the state and development of new safety net health care delivery sites. This year, as part of its commitment to increasing access to quality health care services and improving the health status of all Michigan residents, the Blues awarded more than 50 grants to Michigan safety net clinics to support operations and expand dental treatment and patient navigation services. 

“Thanks to this generous investment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in our community, we can help thousands of families in the western Upper Peninsula address some of the main health care challenges in our region,” said Donald A. Simila, CEO, Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. “By making primary care and behavioral health care seamless, we can better treat the whole person and make sure they get the support they need to improve their overall well-being. This grant will also help prevent families in our community from getting left behind when it comes to health care access.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently reported 15 percent of the population in Houghton County is uninsured, resulting in high rates of diabetes, hypertension and obesity; delayed entry into prenatal care and low rates of childhood immunizations; and a shortage of primary care and behavioral health care providers.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to support clinics, health professionals and volunteers across Michigan dedicated to helping families in their communities get the care and treatment they need to be healthy,” said Michael Fedrizzi, regional manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Safety net clinics, including Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, provide access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable, uninsured Michigan residents and without these clinics, patients would delay and even forego care at great cost to themselves, their families and the health care system.”

“Partnerships between the private sector and local communities are one of the keys to making health care more accessible to families in Houghton County and other communities across the U.P.,” said State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). “This grant is the result of both the commitment of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to building healthy communities and the hard work of so many with their boots on the ground who give selflessly so our neighbors can get much needed care.”

 “We see too many people in our community go without treatment because it’s too expensive or facilities are too far away, and this grant is going to help countless families get care and preventive checkups that will improve – and even save – lives,” said State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette). “This grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan can make a real difference in the future of our community and give our families access to the care they need and deserve.”

“Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center is now in a position to do even more good for our community, thanks to this generous Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan grant,” said State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet). “For many of us who work directly with local communities, this is an exciting day. This starts a new chapter in our ability to help thousands more families get health care in a one-stop location, improving both the quality of care and reducing obstacles to treatment.”

The grant was presented to Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center on Friday, Dec. 13 in Gwinn. For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Strengthening the Safety Net program, please visit bcbsm.com


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and mibluesperspectives.com.

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