UM-Blues Report: Initial Affordable Care Act Grants Boosted Access To Care

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ANN ARBOR — The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation Monday released an issue brief showing that through the end of the 2011 federal fiscal year, Michigan organizations have received more than $82.5 million in grant funding under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, placing Michigan among the top 15 states.

The center is a joint effort of the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The majority of the funding was targeted to workforce building, helping the state educate and train more nurses and physicians. Other funding has gone to community health centers, community-based disease prevention programs, and programs to help the state prepare for changes coming to the health insurance market.

The funding is helping Michigan prepare for the increased number of people expected to have health insurance, particularly Medicaid.

“A lot of attention on health reform has been focused on the health insurance expansion, but expanding coverage alone will not increase access to care or move us closer to a more efficient and effective health care system,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, CHRT’s director. “The ACA’s grant-making focus shows that the federal government was concerned about the ability of states to care for their citizens, with enough doctors, nurses, and locations for care.”

In addition to showing the Michigan awards, the issue brief also shows what was awarded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, revealing that the ACA grants are placing a priority on the development of the health care workforce and community health center infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a total of $1.03 billion in the shortened fiscal year 2010 (March 23, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2010). ACA funding more than doubled in fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2011) as more than $2.5 billion was awarded during the first full fiscal year of ACA implementation.

In Michigan, nearly two-thirds (approximately $18.1 million) of the state’s total grant funding in 2010 went to the health workforce funding category, with colleges and universities receiving more than half of the funds. In 2011, nearly half (approximately $23.7 million) of the total grant funding went to health centers funding category, with non-profit community health organizations receiving the majority of funds.

In 2010, Michigan ranked 10th among states in total awards; in 2011 Michigan ranked 14th.

The ACA grant funding awards injected a significant amount of money into local communities nationwide. For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Cherry Street community-based organization received $5,944,394 to expand health centers, add new equipment (including 16 dental sites serving at least 8,000 new patients), and enhance pediatric and women’s services.

“The improvements being made at health centers in Grand Rapids are just one example of how the funds from the Affordable Care Act are making a meaningful impact on patient care today,” says Udow-Phillips.

The ACA includes nearly $4 billion in non-discretionary funding — appropriations for mandatory spending that were included in the ACA and thus exempted from the annual budget process — explicitly for fiscal year 2012, not including funding allocated across multiple years. Assuming that the ACA is implemented as planned, total spending is scheduled to increase over previous years as new grant programs are introduced and agencies are established.

For more information, and to review the issue brief, go to www.chrt.org.

Based at the University of Michigan, CHRT is a non-profit partnership between UM and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan designed to promote evidence-based care delivery, improve population health, and expand access to care.

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