$95M fund aims to make sure all DC resident have health care they need

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser reads to a group of school children at the Stevens Early Learning Center on June 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. Bowser spoke at a news conference to discuss her Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal for DC, which includes spending for more affordable housing and strengthening early childhood education programs. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
D.C. is launching a $95 million fund to target health care equity focused on disparities for historically underserved District residents, officials said Thursday.

“As we continue to transform our health care system and attack disparities in health outcomes, this historic, $95 million Health Equity Fund will allow us to implement strategies specific to the needs of our communities,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

“This is a unique opportunity to double down on solutions that promote DC HOPE — health, opportunity, prosperity and equity. This resolution has been a long time coming, and I want to thank and congratulate all the parties who came together to move us forward into this next phase of building a healthier, more equitable D.C.”

According to a news release, the fund is a combined effort between the mayor’s office, Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc. (GHMSI) — a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShied affiliate — and DC Appleseed.

The fund will be overseen by a seven-member committee appointed by Bowser and GHMSI.

That committee will consider applicants that address the following:

  • Health and health equity of residents in the District.
  • Social and environmental issues that have an impact on health care of District residents.
  • Social determinants of health including education, employment, income, housing, transportation, food, environment, medical care, outdoor environment and community safety issues that have a positive impact on health care outcomes.

“We’re excited to partner with the District to make significant and impactful investments that will help ensure District residents have equitable access to quality care,” CareFirst President and CEO Brian D. Pieninck said in a statement.

“The Health Equity Fund will provide much-needed resources in the wake of long-standing disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a not-for-profit health care company with headquarters in the District, we look forward to supporting innovative solutions that will advance health equity. The Health Equity Fund represents an initiative that will help change the future of health care delivery by supporting people’s whole health including physical, mental and emotional well-being. This is just the latest investment as part of CareFirst’s ongoing commitment to improving health while increasing accessibility, affordability and quality of care for all those who live, work and play in the communities and neighborhoods we serve across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.”

According to the release, D.C. will review GHMSI’s surplus from time to time to make sure the company is doing what it’s agreed to and not keeping money beyond what it needs to pay claims.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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