From a Regional Health Funder, Millions to Bolster Community Clinics and Access to Insurance

photo: Andrey_Popov/shutterstock

photo: Andrey_Popov/shutterstock

The Episcopal Health Foundation announced last month that it’s investing $10 million in community clinics and health insurance access initiatives in Texas. These grants reflect EHF’s current five-year plan, which puts a major focus on working upstream to address the causes of poor health.

As Inside Philanthropy reported at the time EHF released its plan, many national and local health funders are taking this same proactive approach to improve public health and well-being. Upstream funding strategies look at non-medical factors like housing, food systems, recreation, and other social determinants of health. But this approach also works to expand access to healthcare, especially preventive care at the community level. Among the goals of EHF’s current plan is “Strengthening Systems of Health.” The distribution of $10 million, primarily to support regional community clinics and the insurance needs of low-income patients, falls directly within this goal’s stated strategies.

As EHF president and CEO Elena Marks told Inside Philanthropy:

A clinic’s ability to affect health systems and community-level change is crucial to improving health outcomes, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations. Community-based clinics are well-positioned to support the movement of health resources upstream toward community prevention… Our work with clinics is a central piece of EHF’s work to improve health, not just healthcare, across Texas.

EHF also pledged a separate $10 million in February 2018 to Texas health clinics. Many of EHF’s 2017 recipients were community-based clinics as well.

A few of the principal clinic grants that make up the current $10 million include:

  • $1 million to the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston to provide low-income women in Harris County with better access to effective contraceptive services and thereby “transform the reproductive health system.”

  • $892,217 to CommUnity Care in Austin to fund and expand a team-based model made up of community health workers, dieticians, pharmacists and physicians. The goal is for teams to proactively improve care for patients with chronic disease before they fall ill.

  • $400,000 to the Stephen F. Austin Community Health Network in Brazoria County to create a “fully-integrated primary care and behavioral health system” at several clinics in Galveston and Brazoria counties.

EHF also sees improving access to health insurance coverage as a proactive strategy for promoting health. People with health insurance are generally more likely to receive regular preventative care.

“Low-income and vulnerable populations are less likely to have health insurance, leaving them at greater risk,” Marks said in a statement. EHF’s home state of Texas has the greatest number of uninsured people in the U.S.

EHF provided grants to organizations that seek to expand health insurance and benefits to Texans who are economically disadvantaged. EHF says these investments will benefit Vietnamese groups across the Texas Gulf Coast, organizations working with Houston’s homeless population, and low-income families in Austin, among others.

A few of the top grantees in this category are:

  • $405,000 to Casa Marianella in Austin to help people with lower incomes enroll in health-related benefits and support them in “receiving healthcare from a qualified provider.”

  • $400,000 to Epiphany Community Health Services, or ECHOS, in Houston, for the same reasons listed in the grant above and to provide “organizational effectiveness support.”

  • $300,000 to the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin to support outreach and health insurance enrollment providers and educate “diverse Texas stakeholders and leaders on threats to the healthcare safety net.”

EHF also awarded several grants as part of its “Strengthening Rural Health” and “Support Change in Healthcare Financing” strategies.

Through these grants and its five-year-plan, EHF aims to improve the health trajectories of the 11 million people it serves in the 57 counties of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Health legacy foundations like EHF focus big on local causes and are currently giving away more than $1.3 billion in their localities each year. EHF has over $1.2 billion in assets. To learn more about how it plans to use its funds in Texas, check out the strategic plan for 2018 to 2022 and grant guidance for 2018.