Media release

Governor, Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, RI health insurers establish COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation

“As the state’s community foundation, we are poised to assist in meeting both the immediate and long-term needs that arise in times of distress. We will steward the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund carefully and will be sure the designated funds are put to work with urgency.”

Governor Gina Raimondo and Health Insurance Commissioner Marie Ganim announced today that the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund has been established at the Rhode Island Foundation with more than $5 million designated to fund nonprofit organizations working to address Rhode Islanders' behavioral health needs resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

The funding is being made available by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Tufts Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare as a result of a state compliance review. The funding will provide valuable and timely resources to support, expand, and enhance the capacity of nonprofit organizations to deliver behavioral health services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring continued access to services for Rhode Islanders.

The COVID-19 related funds include $2 million from an OHIC/Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Behavioral Health Account created at the Rhode Island Foundation in 2018. Additional contributions include $2.85 million from United Healthcare, $330,000 from Neighborhood Health Plan and $150,000 from Tufts Health Plan.

“We are fortunate to have this OHIC-created charitable fund that will benefit many, many Rhode Islanders in a time of great need,” said Governor Raimondo. “The human cost of this crisis will be the greatest; access to behavioral health services will be more important than ever, and with this funding, local providers will be able to meet increased demand.”

“OHIC has worked closely with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan, Tufts Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare to develop a model that will provide necessary resources to Rhode Islanders in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ganim. “We look forward to working with the Rhode Island Foundation to put funding in the hands of organizations who have a track record of meeting need in communities that are underserved by behavioral health supports or are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”

Managed by the Rhode Island Foundation, the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund will award grants of between $25,000 and $250,000. The application for this program will be available on April 6, 2020. At that time, qualifying organizations will need to submit an application to the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund Grants program. Completed applications will be due on April 17, 2020 and May 15, 2020.

Funding will be awarded to:

  • Support evidence-informed programs that meet a specific local need related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Support operating expenses necessary to continue delivery of behavioral health services.
  • Preference will be given to proposals that serve communities that are disproportionately impacted by behavioral health issues and are underserved by behavioral health supports.

The program will not support research, capital projects, event sponsorships, or individuals. Exceptions for capital expenses may be made if they are related to remote treatment capabilities or filling a gap in residential care.

“As the state’s community foundation, we are poised to assist in meeting both the immediate and long-term needs that arise in times of distress,” said Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “We will steward the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund carefully and will be sure the designated funds are put to work with urgency.”