Blue Safety Net grants are awarded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation (IBC Foundation) to nonprofit, privately funded community health centers that provide free or affordable care to our local communities.
We have a long-standing commitment to investing in community health centers. In 2015, we awarded grants to 44 non-profit, private community health centers that provide health services in medically underserved areas in southeastern Pennsylvania. Since 2011, nearly $13 million has been awarded through the Blue Safety Net program to community health centers that represent a variety of models including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), FQHC-lookalikes, free clinics, and hospital system affiliates.
In addition, the Blue Safety Net program strengthens the entire health care system by supporting health centers that:
Community health centers serve as the primary source of care for many uninsured and underinsured individuals, and are often the only viable option available to these patients. Without these centers, individuals are forced to rely on expensive emergency room visits as their primary source of medical care, increasing the cost of health care for everyone. By providing less expensive and more practical alternatives to the emergency room, Blue Safety Net-supported community health centers help save our region nearly $12 million in health care costs annually.
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania have changed the health care landscape and increased access to health care for over 30 million people nationwide. Local community health centers remain an essential factor in the success of the ACA as the safety net providers of affordable, quality health care in underserved communities.
The IBC Foundation commissioned a report to better understand the impact of its Blue Safety Net program and begin to address the needs of these community health centers following implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A full report and executive summary are available.
Through our collaboration with 44 private, non-profit community health centers, nearly 200,000 Pennsylvania residents received quality, affordable medical and dental care in 2015.
The IBC Foundation Blue Safety Net program has helped ease the cost of providing services by providing nearly $26 million in unrestricted funding to 50 health centers since the first grant was awarded in 2004 through the Independence Blue Cross Charitable Medical Care grant program. This general operating and has allowed health centers to support staff salaries and general operating expenses, giving health centers the stability to serve their primary purpose: providing health services in medically underserved areas.In 2015, the Blue Safety Net program introduced a new initiative to support innovative approaches to address the remaining issues of access and quality for local and regional safety net providers. This incentive to build capacity is available to current Blue Safety Net grantees, in addition to the current unrestricted Blue Safety Net funding. For Blue Safety Net eligibility requirements please refer to the guidelines.
By expanding and re-designing the Blue Safety Net program, the IBC Foundation is able to support capacity building along with general operating expenses to address the triple aim of improving health care cost, access and quality in southeastern Pennsylvania.