Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan awards Free Clinic of Alpena $20,000 grant to help more uninsured get health care

Oct. 28, 2013

ALPENA, Mich. — The Free Clinic of Alpena received a $20,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to help the uninsured get access to health care and treatment. The grant will help the Free Clinic of Alpena 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.

 “The Free Clinic of Alpena and our staff and volunteers are extremely grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for stepping up and supporting free clinics like ours as we help thousands of uninsured people get treatment and care for a wide range of health care needs,” said Steve Hammond, physician assistant and clinic director of the Free Clinic of Alpena. “Our all-volunteer staff expects to see demand for critical care and treatment go up in the coming year, so this grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is vital to building a health community here in northeast Michigan.”

The Free Clinic of Alpena’s 30 volunteers treated patients who made more than 1,500 visits in 2012-2013, with new patients arriving every day.

 “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to support clinics, health professionals and volunteers across Michigan, including here in northeast 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.”

More than 4,400 people in Alpena County are uninsured, or 15 percent of the population. The county ranks 77th in health outcomes, according to the Robert Wood John Johnson County Health Rankings. Smoking and obesity rates in the county, at 24 and 31 percent respectively, are higher than the national benchmark.

“Thank you to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for supporting our community through local clinics,” said State Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland. “This grant will help many people get connected with the right health care treatment, and that can make a real difference.”

“I’m grateful to Blue Cross for their generous grant, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to express gratitude for the hard work the volunteers at the Free Clinic of Alpena do to make a difference,” said State Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Isle.

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 the Free Clinic of Alpena on Friday, Oct. 25, in Alpena, Mich. For more information on the BCBSM 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.

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