Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan awards Saginaw free clinics with grants to help more uninsured get access to health care

Oct. 28, 2013

SAGINAW, Mich. — Three free clinics in Saginaw received more than $43,000 in safety net grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to help the uninsured get access to health care. Grants given to St. Mary’s of Michigan Center of HOPE Free Clinic and Community Prescription Support Program will also be used to help people apply for and enroll in health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

St. Mary’s of Michigan Center of HOPE Free Clinic received $20,000; the Saginaw Area Foundation for Eye Care (SAFE) received $10,000; and the Community Prescription Support Program received $13,712 in grant funding.

The grants are 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 more than 50 safety net clinics across the state could be used for operations, access to health care benefits or dental care.

“Health care demand will only increase in our community with people continuing to need services and many more looking to sign up for affordable health insurance, so this grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan comes at a critical time for our community,” said Cherie Sammis, RN NP DBE, vice president of mission integration at St. Mary’s of Michigan. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a true partner that’s helping us build a better future for families in the Saginaw area.”

St. Mary’s Center of HOPE is expecting 2,300 patient visits this year and will help hundreds apply for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. The grant for SAFE will enable the clinic to assist 500 people with access to vision care, including glasses, and help about 40 people obtain affordable specialty vision care. Community Prescription Support Program’s grant will help low-income members get medications and provide 5,000 free or low-cost medications for vulnerable patients in 2014.

“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 Dan Martin, BCBSM director of provider outreach. “Safety net clinics provide access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable, uninsured Michigan residents and without these clinics, patients will 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 in an effort to create a healthier Michigan together.”

Healthy behaviors in Saginaw County ranked second-lowest in Michigan, according to the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings. More than 40 percent of adults in Saginaw County are obese, and half of all children qualify for free lunch. The violent crime rate is double the Michigan average and 14 percent of the county population – or 28,000 people – have no insurance. Mental health providers are also in short supply, with the population-to-provider ratio

State Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw, said the grants were a wonderful development and would help provide access to quality and preventative care for uninsured residents.

"I applaud the efforts by our free clinics to provide services to members of our local communities and I'm thankful for Blue Cross' efforts to secure additional funding for our clinics," said Oakes. "These efforts wouldn't be possible without donors who are willing to help them meet the needs of our local communities."

Clinics that applied for BCBSM’s safety net grants are being awarded funds ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 each. Since the program began in 2005, BCBSM has provided more than a $1 million every year to free clinics providing medical, dental and mental health services.

The grants were presented to the clinics Friday, Oct. 25, at St. Mary’s of Michigan Center of HOPE Free Clinic in Saginaw.  For more information on BCBSM’s Strengthening the Safety Net program, please visit

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