New Health Equity Project aims to significantly reduce health disparities for vulnerable residents in five Michigan counties

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has pledged to provide a $9 million Medicaid match to launch a new Health Equity Project in five Michigan counties.

The Health Equity Project aims to help these counties reduce health disparities associated with pressing social needs such as housing instability, food insecurity, transportation, health system complexity, and other socioeconomic factors by:

  • supporting efforts to connect people from historically disadvantaged populations to needed social services,
  • sharing data between relevant health and social service providers to facilitate improved care,
  • providing population-based data and informatics to analysts, stakeholders, and policymakers, and
  • better engaging with, and reflecting on the views of, community members with lived experience.

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March 24, 2021 Statement

Health Net of West Michigan focuses on advocating for equity within our community. We work to develop policies that provide equitable access to healthcare and social services and leverage our collective power through expertise and lived experiences to influence systemic change. We are driven toward social justice and center humanity in our work to disrupt the status quo, built to uphold white supremacist policies.

The murders of eight people, including six women of Asian descent in Atlanta, Georgia, is only the most recent example of violence perpetuated against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This adds to the more than 3,800 reported anti-Asian racist incidents in the past year. Not all racist acts are reported (shunning, slurs, physical attacks, etc.), meaning the number of occurrences is significantly higher and more detrimental for our AAPI neighbors.

Racism, sexism, and violence are embedded in the history of the United States. As a country, we have implemented policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment camps designed to separate and codify racist acts against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Paralleling infectious disease outbreaks like SARS, COVID-19 has reignited long-standing acts of violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Asian American medical personnel at all levels continue to provide care to patients suffering from a variety of illnesses, including COVID-19. They are applauded professionally for their medical expertise yet, outside of the clinical setting these same professionals fear verbal and physical attacks from others due to false rhetoric about the source of the pandemic. As an organization, Health Net of West Michigan, will not stand silent and therefore complicit with any racist acts.

Good intent does not absolve us of our responsibility. We ask that our partners consider the following as we move forward to dismantle the unjust systems that allow marginalization and oppression of groups based on skin color, culture, and language:

Think about the policy tables at which you sit and consider the following:

  • Who stands to gain from this policy or practice?
  • What are potential unintended consequences of this policy?
  • What is the historical context behind this decision?
  • What relationship do we have with those impacted by this course of action?
  • Whose voices are not represented? Why?
  • Do you have the power to make decisions? If not, who does and how can you advocate for an equitable decision-making process?

Speaking out is one tool with action following the statement. At Health Net, we are committed to our values of Well-being, Equity, Collaboration, Adaptability, Respect and Education. We will continue to model these in our on-going journey toward anti-racism and the vision to build a community where EVERYONE has a FAIR and JUST opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

Health Net’s Statement September 2020

Our vision at Health Net of West Michigan is: “Creating a community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” Throughout the past few weeks, there have been significant challenges to that vision amplifying the need for us to continue to work toward achieving racial justice and dismantling oppressive systems to ensure health equity. We have been informed of threats to public education access, diversity, equity and inclusion training, investigations surrounding forced sterilizations of migrant women, and the egregious lack of police accountability in communities across the country. For these reasons and more, we cannot remain silent, and thus complicit, about the adverse health implications these events continue to have on our nation and our community.

We cannot move health equity forward without the support of our community. We call on our friends, family members, partners, and those in public service to invest in our health, wellbeing, and safety by honoring statements made in support of social justice. We call on others to take actionable steps by amplifying the voices of leaders of color, encouraging our neighbors to vote, contacting local, state, and national leaders about the topics that they are passionate about, and engaging in support of changes in policies. Each of us can participate in localized efforts to influence community planning efforts like focus groups, community listening sessions, community-wide surveys and engaging in groups focused on social justice.

We affirm to our staff and our community that we believe EVERYONE has the right to be healthy and that EVERYONE includes all who live in our service area, especially those who have been historically marginalized and targeted due to race, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and country of origin. We affirm that no person is illegal and that Black Lives Matter. We practice this by valuing the personhood, dignity and worth of all our neighbors, partners and employees. We are committed to upholding these tenets despite the world around us. We stand as your partner in health and humanity and will continue to serve and fight alongside our neighbors in community.

Health Net of West Michigan Receives Grant to Provide Health Equity Training to Early Childhood and Health Professionals

 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 6 – Health Net of West Michigan has received a $270,000 grant to expand existing equity efforts, including adding additional health equity training for Health Net staff working with families to access early childhood resources, completion of an equity-focused strategic plan, revision of policy and training for board members. This project is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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Partnership with Delta Dental of Michigan to Increase Access to Dental Services for Children in Kent County

A $75,000 partnership grant between Delta Dental Insurance, Health Net of West Michigan, and the Kent County Oral Health Coalition will work to increase awareness and access to dental services for individuals with Healthy Kids Dental coverage. The efforts in this partnership aim to help increase utilization rates and ensure that Kent County youth receive the dental care they need to lead healthy lives.

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Statement of Support

Yesterday, an integral part of our Health Net team and Grand Rapids community, Brandon Reyes, along with a family member, was taken into custody by ICE officials on his way to work. Brandon is a Dreamer and was awaiting renewal of his DACA status. He is a community activist, organizer, and leader who bravely fights for fair and just treatment and policies to protect undocumented immigrants.

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Michigan Health Endowment Fund 2017 Annual Report

In 2017 we completed our first full annual grantmaking cycle, awarding more than $26 million across our five major initiatives. We’re now a valuable source of funding for organizations across Michigan, supporting fresh ideas and proven models with the potential to benefit people and communities throughout our state. We’ve established our place in Michigan’s philanthropic landscape, building partnerships and addressing health and wellness needs that we’re uniquely equipped to tackle. And even as we hit our stride, we’re not resting. With our partners, we are constantly looking to adopt ideas and best practices that will increase the impact of our funding.


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Michigan Health Endowment Fund Names FitKids360 as Grant Recipient

$401,124 grant will support program expansion and infrastructure

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 25 – The Michigan Health Endowment Fund recently announced $8 million in grant funding to organizations with projects focused in two categories: Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle, and Community Health Impact. Health Net of West Michigan’s FitKids360 program was awarded $401,124 to support infrastructure and program expansion in the Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles category.

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Health Net of West Michigan named as CMS Accountable Communities Model grant awardee

Funds to expand local ‘hub’ linking clinical and community services

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., APRIL 12 – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it has selected Health Net of West Michigan as one of its 32 participants for the Assistance and Alignment Tracks of the Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model. Health Net was the only organization chosen in Michigan to receive this funding; the multimillion dollar grant will be delivered over a five-year period.

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Current State of Oral Health in Kent County

Local Coalition releases report illustrating areas of need

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., – The Kent County Oral Health Coalition recently released The Kent County 2016 Oral Health Exam, a report on the current state of oral health in Kent County. In 2013, the coalition released an initial community based report illustrating the need for improved access and education around oral health.

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