Michigan creates $1.56B public health fund


LANSING — Nine people — including a retired West Michigan teacher — have been named to oversee a $1.56 billion public health endowment for Michigan, created under the overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and funded by the organization.

The board members, whom Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders selected, will direct the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

It will work to improve public health and health care access, particularly for seniors and children, with about $1.56 billion from Blue Cross over 18 years.

A law signed this year to modernize Blue Cross required it to contribute up to $1.56 billion to a foundation that will take on some of its charitable work.

The money may be spent on infant mortality, wellness and fitness programs and other areas.

The board members are Lynn Alexander, Michael Williams, Tim Damschroder, Keith Pretty, Rob Fowler, Jim Murray, Susan Jandernoa, Cindy Estrada and Margaret Robinson.

Jandernoa is a retired fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in the East Grand Rapids Public Schools. She is a member of the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Michigan, the YMCA Advisory Board and is a local board president for Ele’s Place. Jandernoa holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University. She will serve as the nominee of the Speaker of the House for an initial two-year term.

Alexander is vice president of public affairs for Presbyterian Villages of Michigan. Williams is president of Orchards Children's Services. Damschroder is a member of the consulting company Bodman PLC. Pretty is president of Northwood University. Fowler is president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Murray is president of AT&T Michigan.

Estrada is vice president of the United Auto Workers union. And Margaret Robinson is the president of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan, a union of health care workers.

"This fund and the work of the board represent unprecedented investments in and opportunities to enhance the health and wellness of Michigan families," Snyder said. "These highly talented and respected individuals bring a broad range of approaches and expertise that I am confident will be vital to supporting the efforts to improve the quality of health care, while reducing costs."

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