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Paying It Forward: Maine Community Health Options Gives Back

Paying It Forward: Maine Community Health Options Gives Back

Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) sent out a press release on December 29 announcing grants totaling $500,000 to eight Maine-based nonprofit organizations that work toward improving the health of individuals with barriers to maintaining health and getting health care services, such as migrants, individuals recovering from mental illness and substance use, low income Mainers, and those battling tobacco addiction and cancer diagnoses.

We congratulate MCHO on this achievement, which was only possible because of the organization’s incredible success in its first year of operation. Read Lewiston insurer is a national rock star in the January 5, 2015 issue of the Lewiston Sun Journal and Bangor Daily News.

While this news is exciting in itself, there’s a Karmic backstory that makes these grants two times – or maybe even three times – more notable. The backstory’s timeline:

•    In 2000, nonprofit insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine was sold to Anthem, and as a result of that sale, $82 million was set aside as the initial endowment to start MeHAF;
•    In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was passed, providing support for the creation of new Consumer-Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OP), a new kind of nonprofit insurer;
•    In 2011, MeHAF made a $200,000 grant to the Maine Primary Care Association to help them to serve as an incubator for the development of MCHO, a Maine CO-OP; and
•    In 2013, MeHAF made a grant of $300,000 to MCHO to support MCHO's outreach and marketing efforts for the first year of operation of the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The sale of the only Maine-based nonprofit health insurer resulted in the creation of a new health foundation, which provided $500,000 to support the establishment of a new Maine-based nonprofit health insurer which then, after its first year of operation, made grants of $500,000 to support critical health-focused organizations in the state.

Paying it forward, indeed!

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