The Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) was created in 2013 as a result of the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. In accordance with state law, the assets were transferred to a charitable trust to be managed for public benefit. The foundation is a permanent resource for Montanans. Rather than spending the money in the trust over a few years and then dissolving, MHCF will spend the income from trust investments (roughly 5 percent of the total value of the trust each year), and provide a stable, reliable resource supporting the health and well-being of Montanans.
MHCF serves the people of Montana, a largely rural and frontier state with several urban areas. Montana has a large American Indian population and is home to federally recognized tribes on seven reservations, one state-recognized tribe, and a large urban Indian population. Across all of our work, MHCF places a particular emphasis on reducing health disparities and ensuring that every Montanan has an opportunity to enjoy a full, productive, and healthy life.
MHCF makes strategic investments to improve the health and well-being of all Montanans. It envisions contributing to a measurably healthier state through improving access to quality and affordable health services, evidence-based health education and research and analysis; addressing the upstream influences on health and illnesses; and informing public policy. MHCF is committed to upholding this promise to Montana residents as well as being governed by the guiding principle that everyone benefits from better health.
MHCF currently has four focus areas:
- Behavioral Health (mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction): Mental illness and drug and alcohol problems rank among the most common and painful health issues in communities around Montana. The foundation works to improve behavioral health outcomes through transforming to a more integrated system of care, supporting innovative prevention and early intervention efforts, and increasing access to effective treatment
- American Indian Health: American Indians in Montana face several health challenges, including historical underfunding of health care; higher rates of many illnesses, injuries, and suicide; and a median age at death that is nearly 20 years shorter than non-Native Montanans. MHCF works directly with tribes, urban Indian health centers, and other American Indian health stakeholders to support collaboration; identify priorities, policy and systems-level solutions; support self-determination; and provide grants to help implement innovative solutions
- Partnerships for Better Health: This portfolio focuses on catalyzing value-based transformation of Montana’s health system and addressing the upstream social and economic determinants of health.
- Strengthening Local and Tribal Public Health: Montana has more than 50 local and tribal public health departments which protect and promote health in communities across the state. MHCF partners with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to provide grants and technical assistance to allow local health departments to carry out community health assessments, health improvement plans, and projects that address specific community priorities.
- Financial Information: Total Assets: $123 million (FY16)
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $4 million (FY16)
- Special Initiatives and/or Representative Services GrantsIntegrated Behavioral Health Initiative. Hospitals and communities throughout Montana rank drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness as their most challenging health issues. Services can be difficult to find and to access. Through its Integrated Behavioral Health Initiative, MHCF supports health care providers around Montana that are ready to take on the challenge of providing team-based, “whole-person” care. Grantees will offer primary care, mental health, and addiction treatment under one roof, or coordinate these services within a community. The first round of grantees includes some of Montana’s largest medical systems as well as rural and tribal clinics around the state. ($3,000,000 anticipated through 2019; $1.1 million committed to date)American Indian Health Leaders. Leaders of tribal health departments and urban Indian health programs in Montana have few opportunities to meet, learn from each other, and collaborate on programs, health systems reform, strategic planning, or policy and advocacy. In response to requests from tribes, MHCF began providing funding and staff time to organize quarterly meetings of the directors of the tribal and urban Indian health centers in Montana. The group intends to serve as a source of technical advice and leadership to guide improvements in the health system. ($50,000 budgeted for 2017, and contract support for technical experts)
Partnerships for Better Health. Many of Montana’s rural communities have limited access to health services and workforce shortages and budget shortfalls are widespread. Projects funded in this area support new interagency partnerships designed to use existing health care resources more efficiently and effectively; expand the use of care coordination, community health workers, and other community-based approaches to improving the quality and effectiveness of clinical care; and address upstream risk factors such as poverty and poor quality housing. ($1,865,923 granted to date)
Role of Philanthropy
“Despite ever-increasing health care expenditures, our health statistics remain stubbornly unimproved and health inequities related to social position and race persist. Finding more effective strategies to improve health is the central challenge for health philanthropy. By providing financial support and intellectual capital for innovation, foundations can play a unique and pivotal role in improving the value of our investments in health. MHCF has placed particular emphasis on building new partnerships that go beyond the traditional health care arena and finding ways to be a catalyst instead of an underwriter of change.”
—Dr. Aaron Wernham, CEO