Five Columbia nonprofits receive Missouri Foundation for Health grants

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 10:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 30, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Foundation for Health granted more than $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations in central Missouri that focus on health-related issues, according to a press release by the foundation.

These local awards are part of $7.8 million granted by the organization to nonprofits in its service area, including 84 counties in Missouri and the city of St. Louis, according to the release.

In Columbia, five organizations received money, including:

The foundation was created in 2000 as a result of a settlement between former Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri, a nonprofit health services corporation.

In 1994, Blue Cross Blue Shield created a for-profit subsidiary, RightCHOICE Managed Care, Inc., and transferred a majority of its assets there.

In 1996, Nixon filed suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield as a result of this action, charging a violation of a Missouri law governing the transition from nonprofit to for-profit status, said Julie Johnson, communications and media specialist for the foundation, in an email.

In the terms of the suit's settlement, the foundation was granted $12.8 million and 15 million shares of stock in RightCHOICE Managed Care.

With that money and the accumulating value of the stock shares, the foundation grants about $40 million to $50 million each year to health-focused nonprofits, Johnson said.

In the past, the foundation has focused its efforts on different health subject areas, such as tobacco cessation and education, asthma, mental health, women’s health and domestic violence. However, Johnson said the organization is in the process of shifting its focus to a more community-based plan for health funding, including what they call "social determinants of health," or how environmental factors affect people's well-being.

The board of directors is still working out what this will mean for the foundation's future funding plans. But the amount granted each year isn't expected to change, Johnson said.

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