BCBS, partners address opioid problem

One-time grants available for projects; letters of interest due by June 28

DETROIT– With a shared mission of ending the opioid epidemic in Michigan, five organizations are jointly allocating $455,000 for the Taking Action on Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse in Michigan by Supporting Community Responses initiative.

The partnership provides one-time grants to begin new projects, enhance or expand existing projects aimed at reducing opioid and prescription drug abuse and harm.

The program is being conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Superior Health Foundation.

“Prescription drug and opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Michigan. The number of deaths from drug overdose has more than tripled from 1999 to 2015. A 2014 report from the Michigan Department of Community Health shows Michigan experienced a four-fold increase in unintentional fatal drug poisonings since 1999. Overall, 4,722 Michigan residents died from 2009 to 2012 due to unintentional or undetermined intent poisonings. Of these overdose deaths, 19.4 percent were “definitively opioid-related,” a spokesman said.

“Opioid abuse is a rising concern among communities across our state, with more and more Michigan residents being impacted by the issue in some way every year,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of strategy, government and public affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“The partners behind this initiative are looking forward to joining efforts with community-based organizations that are proactively addressing the crisis and providing care and support to individuals in need,” Rossi added.

“The Superior Health Foundation has taken a keen interest in the opioid addiction issue and is committed to finding evidence-based solutions to help address a problem that many in this country are referring to as an epidemic,” said Jim LaJoie, executive director of the Superior Health Foundation. “We’re honored to join other funding partners across the state in committing grant dollars for an issue that is tearing apart families and costing lives.”

Coalition membership should be comprised of at least one organization from each of the following areas:

— Medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, such as medical associations, hospitals, emergency physician groups, medical groups and independent physician associations, community mental health organizations, federally qualified health centers, pharmacies and health plans.

— Public health and public safety organizations, such as a county public health or county health care delivery system, medical examiner, law enforcement, corrections and emergency medical responders.

— Other community organizations, such as schools, community-based organizations working with the population of interest, organizations representing families and community residents, and faith-based organizations.

The funding partners will review applications and request a full proposal from selected coalitions by Aug. 2.

Projects will be funded up to a maximum of $75,000 each for up to 18 months. Applications must be sent to Innovations@bcbsm.com by June 28.

All instructions and application forms are available at bcbsm.com/safetynet and at bcbsm.com/foundation.