Excellus Announces Recipients of 2021 Health Equity Awards

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently announced the recipients of its 2021 Health Equity Awards. The awards represent more than $388,000 in financial support the nonprofit health insurer is providing to community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities across its Upstate New York service area.

“Through these Health Equity Awards, we are honoring our pledge to invest in organizations that strive for equitable treatment and the elimination of discrimination for all people so they may have an opportunity to live healthier and more secure lives,” said Excellus BlueCross BlueShield President and CEO Jim Reed. “We believe we have a duty to lead by example and inspire positive change within our company, our industry, and broadly in the communities we serve. This work furthers our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access, which guides us in all we do.”

James Reed
James Reed

Last August, Excellus BCBS invited organizations to apply for awards of up to $30,000 each to help fund programs to improve health equity in communities of color, especially within Black and Latino communities. These segments of our community continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories include improving the community’s physical health and mental health, reducing social disparities in health care and ensuring access to health care services.

The funding from Excellus BCBS will support 18 nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across 39 counties of Upstate New York. With more than 150 applicants, a comprehensive review process included input from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to assess each proposal. Grant recipients were selected based on clear, defined goals and measurable results for reducing health disparities and improving health equity.

“We are a nonprofit health insurer with more than 4,000 employees who call Upstate New York their home,” said Mark Muthumbi, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Central New York regional president. “Improving the health and quality of life in the communities we share with our members supports our mission. By funding these local initiatives, we will improve access to care and advance specific health outcomes and improve health equity.”

Mark Muthumbi
Mark Muthumbi

In the Central New York region, $80,000 is being awarded to support the following initiatives:

• Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca — Community Health Advocates for Racial Equity (CHARE): CHARE’s goal is to improve health literacy, identify healthcare gaps and reduce barriers within Black and Latinx communities in Tompkins County, using a community health advocate training program approach. By utilizing a train-the-trainer model, this program will advance individuals’ personal health literacy, their ability to share information with their community and social networks, and their ability to advocate for equitable care.

• United Way of Central New York / Early Childhood Alliance of Onondaga — Act Early Onondaga: This program will address disparities in the access rates of Black and Latino children with the early intervention and preschool special education programs; additionally, it will deepen caregiver and parent knowledge about child development and social emotional development by utilizing a developmental screening strategy. The goal is to actively support parents in deepening knowledge around child development and social emotional development and help prevent gaps in health outcomes for at-risk children and communities.

• The Upstate Foundation — She Matters: She Matters is a peer-to-peer community outreach program of the Upstate Cancer Center designed to reduce health disparities by making annual breast cancer screening a priority among low-income, primarily Black and Latinx women. This initiative will address the issue of higher breast cancer deaths and incidences in the Black and Brown communities through a multi-level approach to eliminate barriers, increase access and educate residents on breast cancer screening and care.
For the latest information on the health plan’s community investments and partnerships, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit www.excellusbcbs.com, then type investment partnerships in the search menu.