CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) today announced a $10 million grant to free health clinics across North Carolina to strengthen and expand the clinics' health services to the uninsured and underinsured.
The BCBSNC Foundation is making the grant to the N.C. Association of Free Clinics (NCAFC) as part of a partnership between the organizations to strengthen the free health clinic network across the state. The grant, to be distributed over five years, is the largest ever to be made by the BCBSNC Foundation and the largest to be received by the Association.
In addition to expanding services at existing clinics, the grant's goal is to expand the number of free clinics and pharmacies across the state to 85, up from the current 57, and to provide statewide access. The grant is also expected to allow free clinics to more than double the number of people served annually.
"Providing health care for the uninsured is crucial to the well-being of North Carolina, and it is central to the mission of the BCBSNC Foundation," said Bob Greczyn, president and chairman of the BCBSNC Foundation. "This partnership will help free clinics expand their scope statewide, providing quality health care to tens of thousands of North Carolinians."
With funding from the BCBSNC Foundation's Free Clinics Initiative, the Association projects that by 2009, more than 300,000 uninsured patients annually will receive $150 million worth of health services from free clinics and pharmacies, including 750,000 prescriptions.
"Many clinics across our state are facing huge fund-raising challenges due to the sluggish economy and layoffs," said John Mills, executive director of the NCAFC. "This initiative by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation will provide the additional support needed to meet ongoing challenges free health clinics face on a daily basis."
In 2002, North Carolina's free clinics and pharmacies provided $60 million of free health care to more than 125,000 uninsured patients, dispensing more than 350,000 prescriptions to both uninsured and underinsured patients.
Every free clinic will be eligible for a base grant from the BCBSNC Foundation as well as for additional aid for needs such as service expansion, technology and programs for people with chronic medical conditions. The BCBSNC Foundation grant will also be used for start-up aid to establish new clinics, an annual flu shot program for all clinics, and planning grants and matching grants.
Free health clinics are private, nonprofit, community-based organizations that provide medical care at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured and underinsured North Carolinians through the use of volunteer health care professionals and partnerships with other health providers. North Carolina has more than 50 free clinics, more free medical clinics than any state in the country. There are approximately 600 free clinics nationwide.
About The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation:
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation provides financial support to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians. This mission is achieved through programs and services funded in response to grant requests, as well as through funding for programs supporting needs identified by the Foundation. The Foundation's primary focus areas include access to care for the uninsured and underinsured, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, physical activity, and screenings and education, all with a focus on preventive care.
Since its inception in November 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has awarded more than $3.6 million in grants to organizations throughout the state. In addition to its grant program, the Foundation supports several signature programs. These programs include Be Active KidsSM, an award-winning program that teaches preschool children about nutrition and physical activity; and Healthy Community Institutes for Non-Profit Excellence, two-day intensive training sessions offered free of charge to all North Carolina nonprofits. Additional information about the Foundation's signature programs and grant requirements, as well as a list of all grants awarded can be found on our Web site at bcbsncfoundation.org.
About The North Carolina Association of Free Clinics:
The North Carolina Association of Free Clinics, founded in 1998, is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts advocacy, research, public relations, resource development, training and technical assistance on behalf of its member free clinics and the people they serve. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, each year NCAFC sponsors a conference for those interested in free clinic services, an Executive Directors' Retreat, and other training. NCAFC offers an accreditation process for free clinics and mentoring for new clinic executives. For more information, visit the Association's Web site at ncfreeclinics.org or call us at 336.251.1111.