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

Oct. 28, 2013

PONTIAC, Mich. — Mercy Place at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland (Mercy Place) and Gary Burnstein Community Free Clinic received grants totaling $30,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) designed to help uninsured people get access to care and treatment.

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.

“Mercy Place and our staff and volunteers are very grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for their ongoing commitment to support free clinics like ours as we help uninsured people get treatment and care who otherwise have no place else to turn,” said Jack Weiner, CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. “Our clinic is not only connecting people with treatments and medications that can save lives, but we are also looking forward to helping them access resources that can help them build a stronger, healthier future for themselves and their families.”

In addition to operational support, the grant will fund resources to help people apply and enroll in coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace, the new marketplace for individual consumers under the ACA. Mercy Place provides primary care, pharmaceutical assistance, vision care and referrals for specialty care for more than 500 uninsured people in the community, handling more than 2,000 patient visits a year.

“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.”

The Gary Burnstein Free Health Clinic offers free primary care, pharmaceutical assistance and dental treatment to 1,700 patients, including homeless patients, at 15,000 visits annually.

“This generous grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will help more people in our community get access to quality care,” said House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills. “The clinics in our community play a critical role in increasing our ability to help uninsured people get healthier and improve their lives.”

“These clinics do more than just treat patients, they provide a sense of community,” said State Senator Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “It gives our most vulnerable populations the peace of mind that they have a place in their neighborhood where they can go to get care when they get sick.”

Free clinics that applied for BCBSM’s safety net grants in 2013 are being awarded funds ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 each. Since 2005, BCBSM has awarded more than $490,000 in grants to Mercy Place and Gary Burnstein Free Health Clinic.

The grants were presented to the clinics Friday, Oct. 25, at Mercy Place Free Clinic in Pontiac. For more information on BCBSM’s Strengthening the Safety Net program, please visit

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