For the first time ever, the recently passed and signed 2023-2024 state budget will include an investment to address LGBTQ+ health disparities — to the tune of a $10 million grant. The initiative is a result of work undertaken by Sen. Jeremy Moss and Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, as well as by Gov. Whitmer and the state’s entire LGBTQ+ Caucus.
The funding model, which will support the work of community-based organizations, is unprecedented.
“Simply put, it’s never happened before,” said MiGEN Executive Director Angela Gabridge, one of a coalition of leaders who pushed for the grant. “This is the first time in Michigan the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will have targeted resources at their disposal to invest specifically in improving health outcomes and social determinants of health for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Beneficiaries include youth all the way through to older adults, Gabridge pointed out. Qualified LGBTQ+ nonprofits and community-based organizations interested in accessing support will participate in an application process through MDHHS. Details on timing, qualifications and project priorities will be forthcoming as they are still being worked out. An issue of vital concern to the coalition is ensuring all qualified organizations interested in participating in the process are able to do so.
“To that extent, we explicitly built language into our planning that encourages open sharing of technical assistance, being willing to act as fiduciaries for grassroots or smaller organizations, collaboration, embedded models, etcetera.,” Gabridge said.
The effort to secure this funding was spearheaded by a steering committee that included Affirmations, Corktown Health, MiGen and Trans Sistas of Color Project. “We could not have put together as thoughtful and thorough a proposal as we did without the output and support of the full coalition,” Gabridge said.
In Michigan and across the country, Gabridge pointed out, the government invests in impacted communities in ways intended to improve equality and access to education, quality care, housing, food and many other things. “As we know, the LGBTQ+ community is more likely than any other, particularly given the community’s intersectionality, to be impacted by social determinants of health and issues surrounding access to and provision of care in health settings.”
The funding initiative was made possible by the state’s Democratic majority in both the state House and Senate.
“Our new majority is finally ensuring all Michiganders are valued through our policy and budget-making process,” said Sen. Moss in a statement. “Along with recent equality-focused changes in our law, the creation of this new grant will help ensure fair access to healthcare, education and other support services for hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people who call Michigan their home.”
Pohutsky agreed. “This funding comes at a crucial time,” she said. “As Michigan becomes a more welcoming state, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important we address disparities not just through policy, but also through funding, and this grant is an important first step.”