2021 marked the 20th year since the founding of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
When the BCBSMA Foundation was created in 2001, we had a clear mission and goal—to expand access to health insurance for the lowest income residents of Massachusetts. At that time almost 7% of Massachusetts residents (or 500,000 individuals) were without health insurance.
Over the last twenty years, as we’ve made significant progress toward our coverage goal, our understanding of the issue has grown. We know that there are a host of other factors that contribute to access to care and to health outcomes, many of which sit outside of the health care sphere. While our mission remains the same, in 2021 we updated our language to reflect our current understanding of the root causes of the problem we’re hoping to solve and to reflect the inclusive and equitable approach that we aim to apply.
The mission of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation is to ensure equitable access to health care for all those in the Commonwealth who are economically, racially, culturally, or socially marginalized.
Since 2001, the BCBSMA Foundation has invested $77,406,196 through 2,035 grants and has published 236 reports on various aspects of the Commonwealth’s health care and coverage systems.
Our core strategies of collaboration with public and private organizations through grants, research, and policy initiatives has not changed but over time we have seen how these strategies have influenced, informed, and impacted the community.
As a Foundation looking to shift systems through positive changes in policy and care delivery, we’ve used our role as a thought leader to influence the conversation, by funding organizations that need more space at the policymaking table and by equipping advocates and policymakers with evidence and data.
Our grantmaking strategy leverages our funding to expand the influence of diverse voices, and to stimulate additional investments by other philanthropic organizations. The Racial Justice in Health grant program is designed to strengthen the capacity and expertise of people of color-led grassroots organizations in health and health care advocacy. The BCBSMA Foundation is partnering with the Rx Foundation and the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health to fund the program.
The Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA) worked with research partners to rigorously evaluate the Housing First program in order to better tell the story of lives changed, health care gained, and cost avoided. Over the course of 2021, the report and its findings were widely cited, touting the model as a key strategy and influencing the conversation about reducing homelessness through supportive housing.
Never Again: When it Comes to Sheltering those Experiencing Homelessness, We Cannot Go Back to the Way Things Were
Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Social Impact Review (3/2/22)
Underutilized hotels can help curtail homelessness
Boston Globe (2/25/21)
As COVID Recedes in US, Housing Activists Demand More Than a Return to Shelters
Innovative initiative reduces homelessness in the Commonwealth, but there’s more work to be done
Boston Business Journal (11/22/21)
‘A place that’s mine’: Statewide collaboration could offer lessons for housing the homeless at Mass. And Cass
Boston Globe (11/26/21)
How An Innovative Partnership to Reduce Homelessness Has Led to Ground-Breaking Change
United Way of Massachusetts Bay Blog (12/3/21)
BCBSMAF has played such a critical role in partnership with MHSA in forwarding the concept of Housing First….In 2005, 16 years ago, no one was speaking of “Housing First.” Without the Foundation’s support of this concept…I doubt there would be any cheers today. To see now that it is being adopted by the mainstream system is the ultimate indicator of success.
–Joe Finn, President & Executive Director, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
Well-researched and non-partisan data are the cornerstone of successful efforts to advance health policy and systems toward broader coverage and comprehensive care. The Foundation aims to produce data-informed recommendations and analysis that is used by advocates and policymakers alike to…
Creating equitable access to health care requires a vision, putting funding directly into organizations best positioned to serve their communities, a comprehensive set of actionable objectives, and proof of concept that policymakers and providers can use to ensure that resources, structure, and policy are all aligned to deliver health care to Massachusetts residents. We strive to demonstrate the impact…
In 2021, the Commonwealth announced a series of reforms through its new Behavioral Health Roadmap. Many of these reforms have been directly informed by the research, analysis, and investment in innovative models of care by the Foundation. Since 2016, the Foundation had been testing service delivery models including integrated behavioral health and primary care, and behavioral health urgent care through its grant programs. And in 2019, it released a comprehensive vision of an ideal behavioral health system for Massachusetts, along with a series of recommendations to move the state toward that model system.
Nearly 100 grants were awarded to Massachusetts community based organizations through Connecting Consumers with Care, Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Urgent Care, Racial Justice in Health, Special Initiatives, Strengthening the Voice for Access, and the Catalyst Fund.
Our MassHealth Impacts series and virtual event highlighted the key role of MassHealth on the health and finances of its members, families, and communities, as well as on the array of stakeholders and sectors outside of the traditional health care realm that benefit from the program.
Chair (January 2021 – October 2021)
President and Chief Executive Officer, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
Chair (October 2021 – present)
President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Patricia A. Washington
Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH
Dean and Robert Knox Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH
Chief Academic Officer, McLean Hospital
Kristine M. Trusty Endowed Chair in Psychiatry
Chief, Division of Women’s Mental Health
Director, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Clinical and Health Services Research McLean Hospital
Vice President, Business Development, Trinity Financial
Thea James, MD
Vice President of Mission & Associate Chief Medical Officer, Boston Medical Center
Mary Kay Leonard
Antonia “Toni” McGuire, RN
Senior Consultant, John Snow, Inc.
Strategic Policy Director, Community Catalyst
Sandhya Rao, MD
Chief Medical Officer & Sr. Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Henry M. Thomas III, JD
President, Urban League of Springfield, Inc.
Learn more about our grants, research, and programs at www.bluecrossmafoundation.com.