Health Systems Contribute $1.7 Million Towards Primary Care for Uninsured

Financial Support to Community Health Centers Tops $7.8 Million since 2007

In recognition of persistent rates of high unemployment, the growing number of uninsured individuals, and the pressing health needs in our community, Milwaukee’s five health systems are continuing financial support to the city’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) for the care of uninsured patients.  In 2012, Aurora Health Care, Children’s Hospital and Health System, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare will provide $1.7 million to FQHCs to help cover the costs of primary care and ED care management services for low income patients without insurance.

Last year, Milwaukee’s FQHC’s – Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., Outreach Community Health Centers, Sixteenth Community Health Center and Progressive Community Health Centers – recorded over 45,000 medical visits for patients without insurance.  Additionally, they received over 7000 patient referrals from area emergency departments via the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership (Partnership) ED to Medical Home initiative.  Although the health centers receive some federal funding to subsidize care for low income people without insurance, the public funding is insufficient to cover the total cost of care.  In 2011, almost one-third of the patients seen at Milwaukee’s FQHCs had no insurance, most of who were at or below the federal poverty level.

Health systems’ financial support to FQHCs has been coordinated through the Partnership, a public/private consortium dedicated to improving care for underserved populations in Milwaukee County.  “Milwaukee’s FQHCs do a tremendous job caring for low income and uninsured patients,” says Bill Petasnick, the Partnership’s board chair and CEO of Froedtert Health. “They provide a comprehensive range of primary care, dental and behavioral health services along with care management and support services such as transportation and interpretation. They play a critical role in our community and in the Partnership.”

Recognizing the value of FQHCs in improving the health of vulnerable populations, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee (UWGM) leveraged the health systems’ commitment in its 2011 campaign.  “We were delighted that the health systems agreed to direct their $1.7 million support through United Way,” says Mary Lou Young, UWGM president and CEO. “Access to health care is one of our core focus areas and aligns with our mission.  With the dollars going through United Way, we were able to secure an additional $302,739 from our network of donors and elevate the important work of FQHCs in meeting basic needs in our community.”

In addition to funding to subsidize medical homes and care management for uninsured, in 2011 the health systems collectively contributed an additional $1.1million to improve coverage, access and care coordination;  including funding for community needs assessment and planning, insurance enrollment outreach, health information technology, specialty access and ED care coordination. These shared community investments are over and above the unique community contributions made by the individual health systems and their combined $377 million in charity and uncompensated care in 2010.