Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > Health and Wellness > Michigan Government Invests $49.5M in Closing Racial Health Equity Gaps

Michigan Government Invests $49.5M in Closing Racial Health Equity Gaps

August 10, 2023

Michigan Chronicle
Ebony JJ Curry

Aug. 10, 2023

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, in collaboration with the Racial Disparities Task Force and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel, took a noteworthy step towards closing racial health equity gaps in the state.

The delegation visited the Bethel Baptist Church East Community Health Clinic, engaging with frontline workers. The visit brought attention to the ‘Make it in Michigan’ budget, dedicating $49.5 million to implement the recommendations of the COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force.

“Michigan’s COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force brought together dedicated public servants to tackle racial health disparities and save lives,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. “Now, our state budget builds on the work of the task force by investing in innovative approaches to grow access to affordable healthcare and serve Michiganders in communities across our state. It funds mobile health units that meet patients where they are and local healthy community zones that help more Michiganders lead healthy lifestyles. Governor Whitmer and I will keep working with anyone to build healthy, equitable, prosperous communities where everyone can thrive.”

The allocation of these funds is not just a financial move but a strategic part of Michigan’s broader effort to address health disparities faced by the Black community and other marginalized groups. The budget’s allocation breaks down as follows:

  • $17 million for the Neighborhood Health Grant Program, transitioning 22 COVID-19 testing sites into full-fledged health and wellness centers offering comprehensive services including blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, immunizations, and more. This is expected to increase accessibility to healthcare services in marginalized communities.
  • $7 million to continue the state’s leadership in developing mobile health units, which serve as an essential tool in bridging the healthcare gap in underrepresented and marginalized communities.
  • $16 million for Local Healthy Community Zones, focusing on combating primary causes of health disparities such as lack of access to healthy food or fitness opportunities.
  • $2.5 million for sickle cell disease support, specifically offering counseling, support groups, and other assistance.
  • $23 million for other initiatives to support implementation of the RDTF’s recommendations, addressing broader disparities in healthcare access.
  • In addition to these targeted investments, the budget also earmarks significant funding for programs that will have a broad impact across Michigan:
  • $160 million for free breakfast and lunch for all public school students.
  • $56.4 million for Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiatives.
  • $50 million for the MI Healthy Schools program, aimed at improving school environments.
  • $4.9 million over two years for Double-Up Food Bucks, providing access to fresh produce for those on food assistance.

The Michigan COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force, established in April 2020 under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, represents a concerted effort to reduce racial disparities in healthcare access and outcomes.

“From day one, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist’s tireless commitment to addressing racial health disparities was essential to creating this year’s state budget,” said State Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “While other states continue to ignore the impact of systemic racism on communities of color, Michigan is a leader in efforts to address these issues head on.”

These measures mark a moment of forward momentum for the Black community in Michigan, particularly Detroit. Through community-focused solutions and increased healthcare access, the state intends to provide support for Black and Brown children in schools, sickle cell disease patients, and maternal and infant healthcare. The investments in areas like mobile health clinics and the Neighborhood Health Grant Program respond directly to the needs of the Black community, addressing long-standing disparities.

In February 2023, the Task Force released their final report. The full report can be found here.