Oakland County proposes plan to provide care for under- or uninsured residents

Oakland County has announced a new plan to give residents better access to health care.

"There are neighborhoods in Pontiac where the life expectancy is only 66 years old," said David Coulter, Oakland County executive. "Or in Southfield where it is only 72. While a neighborhood in Troy, just 10 miles away, has an average life expectancy of 86."

Oakland County is working on erasing disparities in medical care where nearly 230,000 residents don't have medical coverage or are underinsured.

"We have opportunity, and I would say even a responsibility, to do better," Coulter said.

It is called Oakland Health 360, a partnership between Oakland County and other agencies like Honor Community Health, that will work together to provide a one-stop shop for medical services at the county's health care centers in Southfield and Pontiac.

"By going where patients are, all residents - regardless of ability to pay - will be able to access a wide range of services and expertise," said Debbie Benson, Honor Community Health.

"The services we (will include) are primary care services with family medicine, behavioral health, family planning services, dental services," said Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health and Human Services. 

You can also get help to apply for social service benefits.

"For emergency assistance such as food, utilities, and emergency rent assistance," said Forzley.

This Pontiac mom who will benefit from the initiative calls it a game changer. "A 100 percent convenient for us," she said. 

The initiative will be implemented in several phases and will have to be approved by County Commissioners.

As for funding, it could cost up to $4 million for the first three years to get everything in place.

"After those initial ramp-up costs are completed, we believe the program will be sustainable without additional tax payer support after three years," Coulter said.

Coulter also used Monday's announcement to give a preview to his State of the County Address

"You're going to hear Wednesday the theme of my State of the County is working together," he said. "I think this is a perfect example of how we are going to model Oakland County government functions moving forward."