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Independence Blue Cross Gives Grants to Support Health Care for the Uninsured

Includes $400,000 for new clinic to enhance care for Philadelphia Latinos

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross today announced that it is providing a total of $925,000 in funding through 2010 to six non-profit clinics in the Philadelphia region as part of its Charitable Medical Care Grant Program. The Grant program, part of the company's Social Mission initiative, funds non-profit clinics that provide free or low-cost health care to more than 125,000 of the region's uninsured or underinsured.

The new grants awarded in 2007 will help support the following clinics: Maria de los Santos Health Center in Philadelphia, a new 41,500 square-foot clinic expected to open in January 2008; the Norristown Regional Health Center; Family Practice Center, an affiliate of Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown, PA; The Clinic, in Phoenixville, PA; Kids Smiles and the Covenant House of Pennsylvania, both located in Philadelphia.

Established in 2004, IBC's Charitable Medical Care Grant Program has provided $6.6 million so far in financial support to 31 non-profit, privately funded clinics in southeastern Pennsylvania.

"We are committed to supporting our region's nonprofit clinics that provide quality health care to our most vulnerable area residents," said IBC President and CEO Joseph A. Frick. "We all shoulder the cost of the uninsured. By funding and helping to create more clinics where uninsured people can receive regular treatment and preventive care, we can help lessen the over dependence on emergency room care, ultimately reducing the escalation in health care costs in the Philadelphia region."

"For more than 20 years, the Maria de los Santos Health Center has been considered a medical 'home' by Philadelphia's Latino community, and it is now the largest provider of primary health care to Latinos in the city," says Patti Deitch, CEO of Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc., which operates the center. "However, as Philadelphia's Latino population has steadily increased over the years, we've outgrown our current facility. We are very grateful to IBC for its much-needed support that will allow us to provide care for even more patients in the new health center we are building."

In 2006, the Maria de los Santos Health Center, located in the heart of Philadelphia's Latino community at Fifth Street and Allegheny Avenue, served nearly 16,000 patients through more than 52,000 visits; 95 percent of those patients were Latino. The new facility will allow for 25 additional staff members and is expected to provide services to an additional 5,000 individuals each year. The $400,000 that the clinic will receive over four years is the largest grant being made by IBC this year and will be used primarily to increase capacity and expand services.

Clinics have used IBC grants to increase office hours and available medications; develop or enhance patient health and educational programs; provide more services, such as dentistry, social work, and mental health; and even ensure general operating funds for heat and water.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For nearly 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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