Blues on the Radio: Month-Long Spotlight on Revitalizing Michigan Cities in May

In May, The Healthier Michigan Radio Show that airs on radio stations throughout the state will focus on all of the exciting developments happening in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids that are helping to revitalize the state. Program host Ann Thomas will speak with:

  • Dan Loepp, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about the investments made by the Blues to help boost Detroit’s economy
  • Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corporation, about the many ways that metro Detroit and Michigan will benefit from the return of the Detroit Grand Prix
  • Tricia Keith, vice president, corporate secretary and services of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about why rebuildingDetroit is such an important mission for the Blues and its employees
  • Jeff Connolly, president for West Michigan Operations and Managed Care at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about how the Blues support West Michigan through various local partnerships and opportunities

The hour-long show is available online or as a podcast and is scheduled to air at the following times on the following stations:

  • WJR-AM in Detroit – 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 1
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing – 7-8 p.m. May 1
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids – 9-10 p.m. Sunday, May 6
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City – 9-10 p.m. Monday, May 14
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena – 11-11:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 23

WOOD Radio

If you live on Michigan’s west side, listen for Connolly on his regular Tuesday segment with WOOD host Steve Kelly. Connolly will discuss topics including the Blues’ Body & Soul walking challenge. This initiative brings African-American churches together in the area to compete for wellness grants. Other topics include the Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQI) under way with Michigan hospitals to improve health care quality while lowering costs, and the role of free clinics for the uninsured.

Tigers Radio

Finally, Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel will discuss National Nurses Week, Employee Health & Fitness Month, the Blues’ partnership with Michigan doctors and hospitals to lower health care costs and improve quality, and the Healthy Blue Xtras member program that provides special discounts to Michigan Blue Cross members at retailers throughout the state.

Photo by MeijerGardens

BCBSM and St. John Providence Health System Partner to Help the Uninsured

Leaders from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and St. John Providence Health System got together recently to celebrate a new partnership to help the growing number of uninsured in southern Oakland County and the northwest border of Detroit. The Blues awarded a two-year $300,000 grant to St. John for its St. Vincent de Paul Health Center.

The Center is located in Southfield and serves uninsured adults who have incomes at 200 percent or below federal poverty levels.

“It’s more than just the money,” said Patricia Maryland, president and CEO of St. John Providence Health System. “This partnership with Blue Cross also helps us provide the human capacity to make a difference. We understand how many individuals suffer on a daily basis because they are not able to get access to the type of care they need.”

The Health Center patients are treated by the hospital’s volunteer doctors as part of the Physicians Who Care project. Patients are also eligible for free or discounted medications through the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy.

Dr. Michael Kobernick, medical director at the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center, says that means patients with chronic diseases and nowhere else to go are able to get the care they need.

“By offering uninsured people access to health services through the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center, we’re helping to prevent expensive trips to the emergency room by managing chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and providing an alternative source for acute care needs,” said Sue Barkell, the Blues vice president of Health Care Value. “This partnership between our organizations is really how we’re going to make a difference.”

The grant money will help St. Vincent de Paul Health Center do the following:

  • Increase capacity for primary care and specialty care
  • Reconfigure location to double the number of exam rooms (from two rooms to four)
  • Increase the number of patients enrolled
  • Increase focus on chronic disease management as measured by improved HEDIS scores for patients with diabetes
  • Explore implementation of electronic medical records to improve the quality and efficiency of care
  • Explore the usage of Telemedicine for specialty care visits
  • Help patients find transportation to offsite specialists

BCBSM also supports the safety net by providing $1 million in grants to free clinics throughout Michigan.

Michigan’s Free Clinics Help Uninsured Manage Chronic Illness and Improve Health

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two chronic health conditions that need constant monitoring. Many of the uninsured who count on free clinics in Michigan have these types of serious health problems. Having a chronic health condition without access to health care services is a dangerous combination, often resulting in consequences that last a lifetime. For instance, diabetics that put off medical care or skip medications sometimes end up on permanent dialysis or lose a foot or a leg because of long-term uncontrolled sugar levels.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a nonprofit mission to provide all Michigan residents with access to quality health care services, regardless of ability to pay. That’s why we are supporting free clinics across the state with more than $1 million in grant funding. The Blues have provided $7 million in grants since 2005 to help free clinics with daily operations and to enhance the services they provide.

Free clinics in Michigan provide many uninsured residents a valuable and rare opportunity to consult with doctors and nurses and learn how to manage their health conditions through medical and non-medical means. Helping them manage disease through regular patient visits, education and free medications reduces expensive emergency room visits and improves overall health.

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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