UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, is awarding $595,000 in Empowering Health grants to six community-based organizations in Tennessee to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities. In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $12.3 million through Empowering Health grants across 21 states. UnitedHealthcare launched its Empowering Health commitment in 2018.
More than half of the Empowering Health grants will help organizations increase their capacity to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities. The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from social distancing, food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, which are among the most urgent needs resulting from the pandemic.
Grant recipients in Northeast Tennessee include Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and Appalachian Miles for Smiles.
Second Harvest received $200,000 to expand access to fresh and nutritious food for people experiencing food insecurity in East Tennessee counties through the food bank’s Fresh Pantry program, Senior Outreach program and Mobile Pantry program.
Appalachian Miles for Smiles, which serves East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, received $40,000 to provide comprehensive vision care services and eyeglasses through a mobile eye unit to patients who are uninsured or have low incomes.
Other grant recipients include: Alliance Healthcare Services, Memphis, $125,000; Wesley House Community Center, Knoxville, $100,000; Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, Memphis, $95,000; and YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, Memphis, $35,000.
“This unprecedented environment has compounded challenges faced by Tennessee’s most vulnerable residents and created further barriers to accessing the health care and services they need,” said Keith Payet, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. “Our support of these organizations in Tennessee through this UnitedHealthcare Empowering Health commitment will help provide critical aid and resources to the communities in Tennessee that need it the most.”
Providing access to better health in high-risk and high-need local communities is a profound challenge. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs.
The Empowering Health grants bring to more than $100 million UnitedHealth Group’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and assist impacted communities by supporting vulnerable populations, protecting the health care workforce and advancing breakthrough innovations in testing and treatment.
In addition to UnitedHealthcare’s support in Tennessee, the company has launched similar community initiatives and public-private collaborations nationwide focused on addressing social determinants of health. UnitedHealthcare has invested more than $500 million in affordable-housing communities since 2011, partnered with food banks and meal-delivery services, and last year joined with the American Medical Association to standardize how social determinants of health data is collected and used to create more holistic care plans.