A community investment fund run through the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership received $1.9 million in total contributions from the five largest health systems in the Milwaukee area this year, boosting its annual budget by 12 percent compared to last year.
The fund was established in 2007 to improve access to health care for low income Milwaukee County residents. The partnership is a public-private association of local hospital networks and health care providers in the area dedicated to improving access to care for low-income populations.
Last year, the five systems — Aurora Health Care, Children’s Hospital and Health System, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, and Wheaton Franciscan Health Care — contributed a total of $1.7 million to the fund.
"The health systems have very committed conversations about where they believe the best investments are," said Milwaukee Health Care Partnership spokesperson Clare Reardon. "The increase was really just more of a reflection of how the health systems could leverage resources for their annual contributions."
Of the 2016 contributions, $1.34 million will be distributed among the city's Federally Qualified Health Centers, the Medical College of Wisconsin Child Psychiatric Consultation Program, and the Milwaukee Center for Independence's Whole Health Clinical Group to increase access. Another $436,000 will go toward FQHCs, Bread of Healing Clinic's Free Community Clinic Collaborative and the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information network to improve care coordination and health service navigation.
The remaining $124,000 will support the Milwaukee County Oral Health Task Force and the organization's own Behavioral Health Steering Committee to improve "community collaboration."
“Through the partnership, Milwaukee’s health systems work together to secure health insurance coverage, improve access to health care services, and enhance care coordination for the most vulnerable in our community," said Cathy Jacobson, chief executive officer of Froedtert Health and chair of the partnership's board. "Our shared community investments are aligned with the partnership’s strategic priorities, and our commitment to avoid fragmented efforts.”
Jenni Sevenich, cheif executive officer of Progressive Community Health Centers, said her organization relies on contributions from organizations such the Health Care Partnership to expand services.
"Our funding as a Federally Qualified Health Center is very tight, so for the health systems to contribute to that knowing the importance of it both for the community and for the cost of health care and getting people care at the right place at the right time, it says a lot about their investment in the whole community," Sevenich said. "The health systems have been providing financial contributions to the (federally qualified) health centers for several years and really what these contributions have done is they have facilitated sooner expansion of services and physical facilities, which leads to better access for everybody, but the undeserved for sure."