Oakland to offer health care for uninsured, underinsured

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County's top official announced plans Monday to offer health care and support services to more than 227,000 uninsured or underinsured residents.

The program, called Oakland Health 360, is a partnership of the Oakland County Health Division, Honor Community Health and Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency that will provide primary care, mental and behavioral health, family planning and dental services, especially for women and children.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter is seen inside a conference room in front of the county's flag at the Oakland County Executive office building.

“Oakland Health 360 is a game changer for those who are uninsured or underinsured in Oakland County,” county Executive David Coulter said at a morning news conference. “If you come in one of our doors to have your child immunized or receive a lead screening, I want you to be able to have a cancer or diabetes screening, talk to a mental health professional, get assistance with prescription drug costs, have a dental checkup and receive primary care.”

General primary care, family planning services, dental care, mental health and community support services will soon be available at the North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac and the South Oakland Health Center in Southfield provided by Honor Community Health.

When complete, the partnership will include mental and behavioral health services and a partnership with Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency to ensure residents have important supportive services, including access to insurance coverage, Head Start early childhood education and emergency services such as energy, food and housing assistance.

“We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as a major partner with a county that understands the need for us to work together for the betterment of our community,” said Debbie Brinson, CEO of Honor Community Health.

Coulter outlined health disparities in Oakland County, saying there is a 14 to 20-year difference in life expectancy based on where one lives in Oakland County. Some Pontiac neighborhoods have a life expectancy of 66 years, while in some Southfield neighborhoods, life expectancy is 72 years, Coulter said. Yet in Troy, the average life expectancy is 86 years.

Officials said in 2018 among residents in seven Oakland County cities, 37% lacked access to sufficient primary care and 39% lacked access to adequate mental health services.

There also is a higher percentage of residents in these areas who are uninsured compared with the county as a whole, and a significant portion who have not received key preventive services or dental care. Among them: Ferndale, Hazel Park, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Pontiac, Oak Park and parts of Troy and Southfield.

“Many of our clients face a complexity of issues when they must seek assistance at multiple locations and providers. Creating a one-stop-shop for these services, allows us to better address the full spectrum of needs we identified in these communities,” said Kathy Forzley, director of Oakland County Health and Human Services, in a news release.

“We will now be able to better connect our customers to the many helpful programs and resources that are available in a streamlined and more efficient way,” said Susan Harding, CEO of the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

For up-to-date public health information, visit www.oakgov.com/health.


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