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Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - Munson Healthcare Joins Community Partners in Supporting Traverse Health Clinic

Munson Healthcare Joins Community Partners
in Supporting Traverse Health Clinic

Traverse Health Clinic plays a vital role in providing access to health care in the region.

Munson Healthcare joins in with efforts from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, The Art and Mary Schmuckal Foundation, The Oleson Foundation, and others in the community who have stepped up to assist the clinic in its readiness for a transition to a Federally Qualified Health Center.

The Munson Healthcare Board of Directors has approved a Memorandum of Agreement with Traverse Health Clinic to provide up to $700,000 of financial subsidy during the next two years. The subsidy extends the $300,000 in support committed to the clinic in July 2012.

“This is the right decision for Munson Healthcare and Traverse Health Clinic,” said Ed Ness, president and CEO of Munson Healthcare and Munson Medical Center. “Regular access to primary care improves overall health and reduces inappropriate use of the emergency department where it is much more expensive to deliver care. Health care reform is asking all health care organizations to drive down costs. This arrangement does exactly that. It’s a good investment and a good business decision.”

The Community Benefit subsidy will be given as needed to cover operational shortfalls and will support the clinic as it transitions to Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike Program status – and eventually a full Federally Qualified Health Center, also known as a Community Health Center.

This status is expected to improve reimbursement to the clinic to serve Medicaid and Medicare enrollees. It also will open the potential for federal grant funding. Specifically, Munson Healthcare support will help the clinic:
• Maintain the availability of services consistent with Federally Qualified Health Center requirements.
• Grow the number of patients the clinic is able to serve.
• Ensure financial stability during the transition.

“We recognize that Traverse Health Clinic’s transition to Federally Qualified Health Center status is a crucial step toward ensuring access to health care in our community,” Ness said. “We are joining a list of community organizations and individual donors who have put their support behind the clinic. Working together, we can make a better future, but the clinic will need strong community support on an ongoing basis to make it work.”

During the past seven years, Munson Healthcare has worked collaboratively with the clinic in its mission to provide affordable health services to people in need, by providing medications, in-kind donations, services, staff support, along with the subsidy in 2012.

The clinic’s move to federal status represents its evolution toward the next model of health care delivery in the Traverse City region, once that is focused on keeping people out of the hospital by providing strong, community-based preventive and primary care services for everyone.

The clinic’s transition is expected to take several years and will strengthen the clinic’s safety-net services for the uninsured and underserved in the community.

Traverse Health Clinic Executive Director Arlene Brennan said the clinic continues its “Spread the Health” campaign to raise $2.4 million during the next several years. This effort will help the clinic respond to changes as a result of health care reform.

“Over the past seven years, Munson Healthcare facilities have generously donated $23 million worth of services to our patients, services which are necessary for comprehensive care,” Brennan said. “Traverse Health Clinic is pleased to have Munson Healthcare once again partnering with us during these challenging times to help us continue providing regular and integrated access to primary care for those in need in our community.”

Of an estimated 18,000 uninsured in the three-county area, the clinic provided access to health services to nearly 3,000 individuals in 2012.

The Munson Healthcare system provided $64.9 million in community benefit last year in health care programs and education, as well as free, discounted, and unreimbursed services.

Traverse Health Clinic provided $9.1 million in community benefit last year, providing access to a variety of free and low-cost services.

“It is clear that both organizations are committed to ensuring that people in this region have access, for the long term, to the health care they need,” Ness said.