Why Blue Shield of California Foundation Takes a Broad Approach to ACA Implementation

The Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF) recently announced $3.4 million in grants for the third quarter of 2013. (See BSCF: Grants Health Policy and Access.) The foundation has targeted many of these grants at improving the Golden State's safety net in preparation for the influx of new insurees expected now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has kicked in. The foundation has taken a number of approaches to shoring up California's health-care system, including two very big grants:

  • $875,000 to the UCLA Anderson School of Management to help train executives at some of Calfornia's largest community health centers
  • $300,000 to the California Primary Care Association for a broad range of improvements and assessments in preparation for the full implementation of the ACA

Other gifts include:

  • $250,868 to the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems to help safety-net hospitals prepare for the law
  • $124,516 to the Regents of the University of California at Los Angeles to provide technical expertise in helping more than half a million individuals transition from the state's current Low Income Health Program to its expanded Medicaid program (called Medi-Cal)
  • $117,000 to the California Department of Health Care Services, also in support of that transition

Over the past year, the BSCF has provided similar grants, including:

  • $252,000 to the Kaiser Family Foundation to conduct a survey that will evaluate how well the ACA is working to expand coverage and improve access for low- and moderate-income people
  • $100,000 to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California to provide research and policy recommendations that will ensure maximum coverage under the Affordable Care Act for immigrant communities
  • $125,808 to the Regents of the University of California at Berkeley to evaluate who will remain uninsured even after the ACA is implemented, focusing on youth and young adult immigrants

With the BSCF's total funding this year topping $20 million, it's surprising that there aren't more of these ACA-related grants. It will be interesting to see how the foundation's giving strategy shifts once the law goes into full effect. Will it aim to help those who still aren't covered by the ACA? Or work within the health-care law to improve it?