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CHICAGO, IL (April 20, 2021) – Today, as part of its continued mission to improve America’s health, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced its National Health Equity Strategy for address the national crisis of racial disparities in health. This strategy intends to change the trajectory of health disparities and reimagine a more equitable health system. The BCBSA has assembled a national advisory committee of physicians, public health experts and community leaders to provide advice.
“Your health shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in,” said Kim Keck, President and CEO of BCBSA. “The crisis of racial disparities in health care in our country is unreasonable and unacceptable. While BCBS companies have made great strides in addressing racial disparities in health in our local communities, there is still a long way to go. “
“By starting here and starting now, we can begin to end racial disparities in health care,” Keck continued. “Our deep roots in the local communities we serve, combined with the scale and reach of our national reach, allows all of Blue Cross Blue Shield companies to drive this new strategy and make real change. However, we cannot do it alone. It is a time when we, as a nation, must come together to build a new model of equitable health care. “

The BCBSA’s national health equity strategy is comprehensive and relies on close collaboration with local providers and community organizations. This collaboration has been essential in recent months as BCBS companies have worked with local leaders to support vulnerable communities with access to the COVID-19 vaccine. The strategy includes collecting data to measure disparities, scaling up effective programs, working with providers to improve outcomes and addressing unconscious bias, building on community-level partnerships and influencing outcomes. political decisions at state and federal levels. The multi-year strategy will focus on four conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color: maternal health, behavioral health, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The BCBSA will focus on maternal health first and then behavioral health in 2021.
Set a target to combat racial disparities in maternal health The BCBSA has set a public goal of reducing racial disparities in maternal health by 50% in five years.
“BCBS companies are fully committed to achieving this goal,” said Keck. “We will continue to work with our local partners and providers to continually improve our programs and build momentum, and we will seek out new ideas and proven initiatives that accelerate health equity reform. “
The measures will include measures of severe maternal morbidity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The BCBSA will report on the results annually. The use of nationally consistent metrics will evolve over time based on research, industry development and market learnings.
BCBS companies currently have a range of maternal health programs supporting women of color during pregnancy. Each program is tailored to the needs of the communities they serve. The maternal health programs of these BCBS societies support both BCBS members and non-members of their partner organizations.

Commenting on the breadth of maternal health programs of the BCBS Societies, Dr Rachel Hardeman, Founding Director, Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity and Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and Fellow from the newly formed advisory group said, “Who better than Blue Cross Blue Shield to tackle racial disparities in maternal health?” BCBS companies service all zip codes in the United States and have the scale and resources to ensure equitable maternal health care for women of color.
Expert Panel Focused on Closing America’s Health Equity Gap “The more people we bring to the table, the more we can create lasting change,” Keck said of nine hand-picked members of the BCBSA National Advisory Committee on Health Equity. “I am delighted that we have brought together such experienced and highly esteemed leaders in health equity and community, and look forward to their guidance as we move forward.
Members include: Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association®; Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Healthcare Ethics at the University of Chicago; Gilbert Darrington, CEO of Health Services, Incorporated; Adaeze Enekwechi, PhD, MPP, Associate Research Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University; Maria S. Gomez, RN, MPH, President and CEO of Mary’s Center; Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Full Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota; Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO of March of Dimes; Richard Taylor, CEO of ImbuTec; and Kevin Washington, President and CEO of the YMCA of the United States. The National Health Equity Strategy is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s commitment to bring about meaningful change. The commitment is a testament to the general commitment of the BCBS companies to tackle racial disparities in health and in all its forms.

ABOUT BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD ASSOCIATION
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 35 independent, community-based, locally managed Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage to one in three Americans. The BCBSA provides health care information through the America’s Health Reporting Series and the national BCBS Health IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, watch our videos on YouTube, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can read our commitment to make a meaningful change here. To learn more about our National Health Equity Strategy and Maternal Health Program, visit BlueHealthEquity.com.


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