“What is a Health Authority?” and Other FAQ
What is a health authority?
Health authorities are publicly-governed agencies that coordinate human and financial resources to create a stronger safety net for underserved and vulnerable populations. In some communities, hospitals operate like public health departments, administering hospitals, health centers, and other services. In Detroit and Wayne County, the Health Authority serves primarily as a convener of resources, offering health insurance enrollment and navigation, primary care workforce development through a teaching health center and professional services placement program, and provides programs that address critical needs, such as our nurse home visiting program for first-time, low-income mothers called Nurse-Family Partnership.
The Health Authority is a “public body corporate,” which means that it is a public corporation, but most importantly, it is community-based. Through its Board of Directors, advisory committees, and sponsored coalitions and collaborations, inclusiveness is an essential value.
Why do we need a health authority?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made health insurance available to nearly all Americans in various ways. But for low-income and vulnerable populations, including those with low functional literacy skills, a major challenge in navigating the health system and adopting positive health behaviors remains. Private health care organizations provide components of the safety net, but gaps remain and coordination is required. No one organization provides a neutral convening source, or can advocate on behalf of the health care safety besides the Health Authority. As resources grow scarcer and the demand by government to improve performance on community health indicators, the Health Authority will continue to serve its role as the intermediary between the public health agencies and the health and human services in the safety net.
How is the Health Authority financed?
Although it is a public corporation, the Health Authority does not receive direct public funding. Its funding comes through professional services contracts, philanthropic and government grants, and matching funds through the Medicaid program. An annual financial report is available in the “Documents” section of our website.