Two million dollar award allows Blue Cross of California's Healthy Families Programme to expand

Camarillo 24 August 2000Blue Cross of California has been awarded more than $2 million in grant funds to help improve access to health care and services for children in underserved populations and rural areas. The announcement follows an award last November of $1.2 million to expand health services to this same population, the Blue Cross Healthy Families Programme members.


The grant was awarded by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), the state agency which administers the Healthy Families Programme, that provides low-cost health, dental and vision coverage for children of low-to-moderate income working families. MRMIB awarded the funds for 23 different projects ranging from second year telemedicine support for more than 30 sites, to funds for hiring mental health providers and primary care physicians in rural counties. The majority of the funds will go directly to the Blue Cross of California Healthy Families Programme network clinics to expand office hours and/or services to accommodate the needs of migrant farm workers and rural residents.

"We are delighted to receive this grant award from MRMIB", stated John Monahan, general manager of Blue Cross' State Sponsored Programmes. "Previous grant awards were critical in helping us establish programmes for our Healthy Families Programme members in communities where access and services had been limited. We now look forward to expanding existing programmes and establishing even more services to improve access to health care and services for our members in medically underserved areas."

In addition, Blue Cross will distribute $34.000 in funds to the McCloud Healthcare Clinic in Siskiyou County to start a clinic in an area where the nearest health care services are currently more than 70 miles away. With adolescent mental health services particularly scarce in rural areas, the Shasta Community Health Center will receive more than $160.000 for child psychiatric care and other services. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency will receive funding for a van to transport rural residents to medical clinics. And finally, the Catholic Healthcare West Organization in Central California is slated to receive more than $66.000 to hire a bilingual health educator to conduct health education home visits at migrant housing sites throughout Kern and Tulare counties.

Blue Cross offers the Healthy Families Programme in all 58 California counties, as a Health Management Organisation (HMO) product in 11 counties and as an Exclusive Provider Organisation (EPO) product in the remainder of counties. With approximately 323.000 children participating in the Healthy Families Programme statewide, Blue Cross of California is the largest health coverage provider with more than 125.000 members, nearly 40 percent of the total programme membership.

Blue Cross of California, with 5.4 million medical members, is the California operating subsidiary of WellPoint Health Networks Inc., one of the nation's largest publicly traded managed care companies. WellPoint serves the health care needs of more than 7.6 million medical and approximately 34 million speciality members nationally. WellPoint offers a broad spectrum of quality network-based health products including open access PPO, POS and hybrid products, HMO and speciality products. Speciality products include dental, vision, mental health, life and disability insurance, long term care insurance, pharmacy benefit management, utilisation management, flexible spending accounts, COBRA administration, and Medicare supplements.

You can find more details on the telemedicine demonstration project, which was launched by the Blue Cross of California, in the VMW article Blue Cross of California and to partner in phase II launch of Telemedicine Network, that appeared in the April 2000 issue.

Leslie Versweyveld

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