Blue Cross Blue Shield Grants $1.4M for Health Care Access

December 26, 2019 — The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation recently announced it awarded $1,425,000 in grants to nine nonprofits across the state to support programs that improve access to behavioral health urgent care and address key social determinants of health, including housing and food insecurity.

“The Foundation’s vision for behavioral health urgent care is to expand the existing capacity in the Commonwealth’s system by supporting more seamless, comprehensive and effective care for the greatest number of adults with mental health, substance use and co-occurring needs,” said Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

The foundation provided a total of $1.2 million to six organizations through its Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Urgent Care grant program, which builds upon the state’s existing Emergency Services Program system and expands the recipient organizations’ ability to provide community-based behavioral health urgent care. The three-year program, renewable annually, grants $200,000 to the following organizations:
  • Bay Cove Human Services, Boston, the sole provider of emergency behavioral health services on Cape Cod, for follow-up services, and to increase awareness of services to individuals with behavioral health challenges.

  • Boston Medical Center, Boston, to improve the delivery of high-quality, culturally competent care.

  • The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pittsfield, to increase community-based locations with behavioral health urgent care and expand their operating hours.

  • Clinical & Support Options Inc. , Northampton, to provide an integrated behavioral health system that connects individuals to the service that meets their needs as soon as possible.

  • Community Healthlink, Worcester, to provide clients with access to same-day/next-day medication assisted treatment, and hire case managers to provide follow-up services to clients, among other initiatives.

  • Lahey Health Behavioral Services, Greater Lowell, to introduce telemedicine for psychiatric prescribing and consultation to its Urgent Care Clinic and provide medication-assisted treatment via telepsychiatry.
Another $225,000 in grants aims to increase collaboration between health care organizations and social services agencies.

Receiving $75,000 for an initial planning year are:
  • The Community Builders, Worcester, to incorporate trauma-informed approaches into housing by changing policies and practices that may be inadvertently exacerbating residents’ stress and trauma.

  • Metro Housing Boston, Boston, to help the organization serve patients of Boston Medical Center who face imminent homelessness, eviction or foreclosure. It will also pilot new software that will enable electronic referrals to Metro Housing and integrate the data into BMC’s electronic health record system.

  • Project Bread ”“ The Walk for Hunger, Boston, to address the issue of food insecurity by using Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) resources to increase the consumption of healthy foods among the patients of Family Health Center of Worcester.