Skip to main content

PHOTOS: Lt. Governor Gilchrist Delivers $49.5 Million to Reduce Racial Disparities Under ‘Make it in Michigan’ Budget


August 9, 2023



PHOTOS: Lt. Governor Gilchrist Delivers $49.5 Million to Reduce Racial Disparities Under ‘Make it in Michigan’ Budget


LANSING, Mich.—Today, in Detroit, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II joined members of the Racial Disparities Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel to tour the Bethel Baptist Church East Community Health Clinic, meet frontline workers, and highlight the ‘Make it in Michigan’ budget’s $49.5 million investment to implement the recommendations of the COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force.


“Michigan’s COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force brought together dedicated public servants to tackle racial health disparities and save lives,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Now, our state budget builds on the work of the task force by investing in innovative approaches to grow access to affordable healthcare and serve Michiganders in communities across our state. It funds mobile health units that meet patients where they are and local healthy community zones that help more Michiganders lead healthy lifestyles. Governor Whitmer and I will keep working with anyone to build healthy, equitable, prosperous communities where everyone can thrive.”


“We are committed to addressing racial health disparities across the state of Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “The budget builds on the important work of the Michigan COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force and continues investing hundreds of millions to close health equity gaps in communities across our state. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, Governor Whitmer, and our legislative partners for prioritizing health and working hard to help more Michiganders lead healthy lives.”


“From day one, Lt. Governor Gilchrist’s tireless commitment to addressing racial health disparities was essential to creating this year’s state budget,” said State Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “While other states continue to ignore the impact of systemic racism on communities of color, Michigan is a leader in efforts to address these issues head on.”


“All Michiganders deserve access to quality health services,” said state Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Township), chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “Unfortunately, communities and people of color often face additional and steeper obstacles to access those necessary services — that’s why it’s crucial we make investments to remove those barriers, so that services are equitably available to all Michiganders. From day one, I was glad the Task Force on Racial Disparities was created. Seeing these investments — many of which came out of the Department of Health and Human Services budget — being put into place makes me even more grateful.”  


Closing Racial Health Equity Gaps

In total, the budget invests $49.5 million to implement the recommendations of the Michigan COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force. That investment includes:

  • $17 million for the Neighborhood Health Grant Program, which will transition 22 community-based COVID-19 testing sites into comprehensive community health and wellness centers by expanding to offer additional community-driven health services, such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol screenings, immunizations, COVID and HIV/STI testing, social services, and counseling.
  • $7 million to continue Michigan’s national leadership in development of mobile health units and fill important gaps in access and care delivery that improves health outcomes. Mobile health units bring prevention and care to underrepresented and marginalized communities, meeting patients where they are and connecting them with the resources they need to thrive.
  • $16 million for Local Healthy Community Zones, pilot programs designed to address leading causes of health disparities in underrepresented communities, like a lack of healthy food or fitness opportunities, by concentrating resources on boosting opportunities for healthy lifestyles.
  • $2.5 million to support individuals with sickle cell disease and their families with counseling, support groups, and other assistance.
  • $23 million to support implementation of the RDTF’s recommendations and address additional disparities in health care access.

The budget makes additional investments to close equity gaps in communities across Michigan:

  • $160 million to provide all 1.4 million public school students free breakfast and lunch every day.
  • $56.4 million for Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, a bipartisan initiative that supports pregnant women, new mothers, and infants.
  • $50 million for the MI Healthy Schools program, improving air and water quality in schools.
  • $4.9 million over 2 years for Double-Up Food Bucks, boosting access to fresh fruits and vegetables for Michiganders on food assistance.

Michigan COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force

Established in April 2020, the Michigan COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force brought together a wide variety of leaders from government, academia, health care, economics, public health, epidemiology, education, the private sector, and other disciplines to address racial health disparities in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.


Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Gilchrist, the Task Force worked to respond to pandemic surges and save lives, setting up community testing, mask distribution, and vaccination sites in high-need areas, improving data collection and analysis, and boosting access to telehealth, health insurance, and mobile health clinics in vulnerable communities. To improve long term outcomes for underrepresented communities and reduce racial disparities in health care access, the Task Force also targeted improved access to health care for Black and Brown children in schools and people with sickle cell disease and reinforced maternal and infant healthcare.


In February 2023, the Task Force released their final report. The full report can be found here.