U-M Health System reports nearly $308M in service to the community
The U-M Health System provided nearly $308 million worth of community benefits in 2010, according to a recent Michigan Health & Hospital Association report.
That means UMHS accounts for a sizable proportion of the total community benefit provided by all of Michigan’s hospitals — an amount that the MHA reports as $2.6 billion for 2010, the most recent reporting period.
The greatest share of UMHS community benefit in fiscal year 2010 was nearly $178 million in uncompensated direct patient care, including charity care, unpaid patient debts and the difference between the cost of caring for patients in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and the reimbursement UMHS received for their care.
This uncompensated care has risen over the years as UMHS expands its care and commitment to the uninsured and those enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare and other federal, state and county programs — yet absorbs the difference between cost and reimbursement.
The remaining $130 million includes the unreimbursed cost of health professions education, support of medical research, and a host of other community-oriented programs, services and activities directly supported by UMHS.
UMHS now is collecting data for fiscal year 2011. All departments, centers and groups that have sponsored community programs or events in those years may visit www.med.umich.edu/comben/about/feedback.htm to submit information to be included in the next report.
“We stand firm in our commitment to serve our community not just through excellent care for all who come to us, but also through programs and services that reach out to those who need our help,” says Doug Strong, chief executive officer of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers.
“This includes everything from the nutritious meals we provide to homebound seniors through our Meals on Wheels program, and the research studies that we help support when grants don’t cover the whole cost, to the stop-smoking classes we offer, and the care we provide through clinics in local schools and in partnership with our community mental health program.”
The increasingly difficult economic environment is stressing the ability of providers across Michigan to respond to the growing needs of residents without health insurance and those in public programs, making UMHS an even more important source of high-quality health care.
In addition to providing care to Medicare and Medicaid participants from every county of Michigan, UMHS serves participants in county-based health plans that enroll people who aren’t eligible for federal plans. One such plan is the Washtenaw Health Plan, a public-private partnership among Washtenaw County, UMHS, St. Joseph Mercy Health System and other local health care providers.
WHP enrolls thousands of low-income Washtenaw residents who are not eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or other public programs and is supported mainly through substantial hospital donations in the form of free care.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Medicaid-eligible and uninsured adults and children who need mental health and substance abuse education and services are served through the Washtenaw Community Health Organization. UMHS is a partner in WCHO, and the designated care provider for a large number of patients.
UMHS is a major participant in the Washtenaw Health Initiative, a voluntary, countywide collaboration focused on how to improve access to coordinated care for the low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid populations. The work of this group is on how to improve care for these priority populations today and in 2014, when federal health care reform is expected to be more fully implemented. The effort also includes representatives from Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, health plans, county government, community services, physicians, and safety net providers.
Even as the initiative progresses, UMHS physicians, nurses, medical students, residents and other clinicians donate their time to provide health care services at various sites throughout the county including the Corner Health Clinic, Robert J. Delonis Center, Hope Clinic, Packard Community Clinic, Migrant Health Clinics and nurse-managed family health clinics.
At seven middle and high schools in the Ann Arbor, Willow Run and Ypsilanti public school systems, UMHS teams with the Michigan Department of Community Health to fund and operate school-based health centers. Known as the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools, this partnership also works with the Washtenaw County Public Health Department and other health providers.
UMHS reaches beyond health care to serve the older population in the region by sponsoring such programs as the Housing Bureau for Seniors, which in U-M fiscal year 2010 helped thousands of adults over age 55 maintain affordable housing and prevent foreclosure; and Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, which delivered 122,500 meals to 375 clients in 2010.
Plus, UMHS participates in disaster readiness training, referrals to community services and supports initiatives to improve the health of the community.
As part of its commitment to providing care and service to those who need it, UMHS aims to reduce disparities in health care. In the most recent evaluation issued by the University Health System Consortium, UMHS had a top score for its performance on equity of care.