Fenton Council Could Endorse Millage Proposal for Genesee Health Plan

Plan provides services for 656 uninsured in Fenton and 304 in Linden; income guidelines must be met.

A millage renewal for Genesee Health Plan (GHP) will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The GHP provides a medical care and prescriptions for residents ages 19-64 who meet income guidelines and don't have other insurance, said Shari Burton, a community outreach specialist for GHP.

The ballot proposal is for a renewal of 1.0 mill, $1 per $1,000 of taxable property value, for seven years. The millage renewal would be for 2013 through 2019, and the amount collected during the first year of the millage is $8,606,928, the ballot language states.

Burton said if the millage renewal doesn't pass, GHP will have to close its doors at the end of 2012. In Fenton, there are 656 on the and the number is 304 in Linden.

Councilwoman Pat Lockwood said, before GHP, hospital emergency rooms were jammed with people who couldn't get health care. In addition, there is a tremendous amount of people without insurance. Many are families, with children without vaccinations and women without cancer screenings.

The millage doesn't affect Fenton's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) or Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), Lockwood added.

She believes it's an excellent plan, and a lot of work is to be done in getting doctors to participate, she said.

Mayor Sue Osborn said she knows many people who use GHP.

The GHP has provided health care to many β€” 60,000 β€” in Genesee County since it began 10 years ago. It provides access to a primary medical care facility for 72 percent of uninsured residents in Genesee County.

Coverage for one person costs $701 annually, including $444 for doctor visits, $114 for x-ray and clinical laboratory services and $143 for prescriptions, Burton said.

Those who are assisted are 49 percent suburban and 51 percent urban residents. For fiscal year 2011, 66,404 are enrolled in Plan A (see About the plan below) and 213,225 in Plan B.

"Monthly, I enroll 800 into the plan," she said.

Some of these people could be renewals. The plan provides basic health coverage for working adults who can't get insurance from their employer and don't qualify for Medicaid or other state programs. Access to primary and preventive care helps prevent overloading at emergency rooms, states information from Friends of Genesee Health Plan.

GHP was incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2001, and it was developed through the Greater Flint Health Coalition with a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation. It's funded through federal, state and local funds, with a federal match for local funds bringing millions of new federal dollars into the local health care system, she said.

The plan has earned a national quality award and state and local recognition. Bay and Saginaw counties have programs like GHP, and Oakland County has a similar program, she said.

About the plan

It includes two types of coverage, and many other services. Services include Community Mental Health and substance abuse assistance, Disease Management, low-cost eyeglasses, a dental program, help for veterans and the homeless, and medical equipment and supplies.

In addition, Health Navigators provide people with links to other services they need, such as housing, transportation, legal services, finding a primary care provider, exercise and nutrition, diabetes education and services, smoking cessation, prescription assistance and mental health services. In 2011, 5,734 links to other services resulted, Burton said.

Plan A covers residents up to 35 percent of the federal poverty level; this portion of GHP is funded by the state of Michigan, which also does enrollment for it. Plan A covers doctor visits, prescriptions, diagnostic services, ambulance and emergency room (not inpatient).

Plan B is for Genesee County residents who meet citizenship and income requirements, are 19-64, uninsured and not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Enrollment requires a photo ID, Social Security card, proof of income and proof of address.

Income guidelines for the program are $18,953 for one person, $25,298 for two, $32,043 for three and $38,588 for four, Burton said.

Enrollment is by appointment at G-3169 Beecher Rd., Suite 204, Flint, call (810) 232-7740; or the Genesee County Health Department, 630 S. Saginaw St., Flint, (810) 257-3612.

More information about Genesee Health Plan

* The ballot question isn't a tax increase, it's a renewal.

* None of the millage money goes to administrative costs for GHP.

* Since 2005, emergency room visits by those enrolled in GHP are down 51 percent. It saves everyone money, since hospitals pass on costs of treating the uninsured to consumers.

* Mammograms and preventive screenings for women have quadrupled since 2005, due to the GHP.

* The number of uninsured children is down 25 percent, due to GHP. When parents enroll in GHP, GHP staff get children enrolled in MIChild/Healthy Kids.

Source: Friends of Genesee Health Plan


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