Over 1 million times a year, community members receive free or reduced-cost assistance from UMHS
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan Health System provided $280 million worth of community benefits in 2008, according to data included in 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 $2.5 billion for 2008, the most recent reporting period.
The greatest share of UMHS community benefit in fiscal year 2008 was $165 million in uncompensated direct patient care, including charity care 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 $115 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.
"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 University of Michigan 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 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 four 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 community partnership also works with the Washtenaw County Public Health Department and other health care 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 2009 helped 2,038 adults over age 55 maintain affordable housing and prevent foreclosure; and Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, which delivered 130,998 meals to 368 clients in 2009. Over 370 Meals on Wheels volunteers drove 72,350 miles and provided 8,724 hours of service.
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.