How Big Is the Impact of Health Care Reform on Free Clinics and Other ‘Safety Net’ Providers for Michigan’s Uninsured?

Much of the talk about health care reform has centered on how it will affect Medicare, individuals or private businesses. But how will it affect the organizations that provide care to those who are uninsured or underinsured?

Leaders from free clinics, federally qualified health centers, and FQHC look-alikes gathered for the first time to talk about caring for the uninsured and underinsured at the Healthy Safety Net: A Blues Symposium May 5 in Lansing, Michigan. The Blues hosted this interactive symposium to give safety net providers a chance to talk about the impact of health care reform on Michigan’s efforts to provide health care for everyone.

The symposium provided a forum for administrators, board members and medical directors from the clinics and health centers to discuss the changing health care landscape and share what that may mean to their respective organizations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to many of the state’s uninsured by 2014, but there will still be an estimated 6 to 9 percent of Michigan’s population without health insurance.

So what happens next? The role of these safety net providers will likely change, but the commitment to making sure everyone who needs health care gets it has not.

“Strategic partnerships are the key to survival and success,” said Dave Law, executive director of the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation. “And the most important partner in all of this is the patient. We need to fully understand their needs and the challenges facing them. Then we can build those key relationships and partnerships that provide overall health benefits to the underserved residents of our communities.”

Since 2005, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has granted more than $6 million to Michigan’s free clinics to secure health and dental care for thousands of uninsured and underinsured patients.

Click here to view a previously recorded live broadcast from the Health Safety Net: A Blues Symposium

Metro-Detroit’s African American Churches Compete For Wellness Grants in Our Body & Soul BLUE Walking Challenge

The African American church has always provided spiritual leadership, guidance and motivation to the community. In the Detroit-area thirteen churches are taking a stand and walking their way to a healthier lifestyle by competing in the Body & Soul BLUE wellness challenge, sponsored by American Cancer Society and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Health disparities in the African American community are significant:

  • 40 percent of African American men in Michigan will not live past their 65th birthday.
  • African American women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of other races.
  • African Americans of both genders are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population.

Although the factors creating health disparities in this country are complex, walking is a safe and simple form of exercise that can improve your health, mood and level of fitness. Blue Cross walking advocate, Jodi Davis lost more than 160 pounds by adopting a healthy lifestyle that included a sensible diet and an exercise regimen consisting of a brisk, daily walk of 1.5 miles each day – and she has kept the weight off for nearly 10 years.

A walking exercise routine can help:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage weight
  • Improve mood
  • Increase strength and fit

Source: The Mayo Clinic

With the U.S. spending more than ever on preventable health problems like those listed above, every step counts. Our Body & Soul BLUE challenge gives members of several metro-Detroit African American churches extra incentive to get moving by giving them grants to log the most walking miles of physical activity by the end of the 10-week period. Grant money is used to support health ministry efforts at the winning churches.

Personal Health Is Key to Community Health

The faith-based health and wellness challenge gives church leaders a chance to motivate their congregations to nurture their bodies, and their souls. A combination of pastoral leadership, educational activities, and the family environment of the church helps congregations make healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Are you involved in a walking or exercise program? What kind of physical activity do you do to stay healthy and fit?

To learn more about the Body & Soul BLUE challenge, watch a video from last year’s challenge in Grand Rapids, Michigan below:

Photo Credit: Nick Harris 1

Becky Dantonio Helps Lansing Communities Get Fit

Becky Dantonio and husband Mark Dantonio, Michigan State’s head football coach, attended the 2011 Community Partners in Health Winter Warm-Up kick-off event at the Lansing Mall on Feb. 12. The free program offers resources to encourage residents to adopt physical activity, healthy eating and other positive habits into a daily routine.

The Winter Warm-Up features the Blues’ Community Challenge — an 8-week contest between nine greater Lansing communities. Teams from each community will compete by signing up community members to log physical activity. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is awarding grants to all participating community teams. Larger awards will go to those teams that log the most miles. The grants will support public health and wellness projects in each community. More than 300 attendees had the opportunity to participate in six health screening stations and get baseline measurements of their blood pressure, fitness, body composition, balance, nutrition and flexibility. Becky Dantonio is the official spokeswoman for the Warm-Up. “As a community we can work together to encourage health and wellness throughout our great state of Michigan,” she said. “It’s much easier to stay motivated when you belong to a group or are participating in some type of personal or group wellness challenge. The Warm-Up is a great way to support and reinforce healthy habits in our greater Lansing community.”

Win Prizes For Healthy Habits

The Blues’ Community Challenge offers five individual prizes to registered participants in each community team. Each qualified participant will be entered into a drawing for great prizes at the Celebration Event April 2 at the Lansing Mall. A few prizes include:

  • Lansing Mall and Playmakers gift certificates
  • Ingham County Park annual passes
  • Cookbooks from the American Heart Association and American Caner Society
  • One-week passes to local fitness centers

The nine greater Lansing communities participating are:

  • Charlotte
  • East Lansing
  • Grand Ledge
  • Lansing
  • Williamston
  • Delhi Township
  • Delta Township
  • Lansing Township
  • Meridian Township

Check out the video from last year’s Winter Warm-Up award ceremony in which nine community leaders received grants for health and wellness programs within their communities: Experts say identifying a positive routine and sticking with it for 21 days will initiate a “habit.” Why not make health and wellness your best habit of 2011? Register today for the Blues’ Community Challenge.