Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Statement to Health Policy Commission
BOSTON, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, gave the following statement today during the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission's Health Care Cost Trends Hearing, COVID-19 and the MA Health Care System: Assessing Impact, Advancing Equity:
"Good morning, Chair Altman, Commissioners, and fellow panelists. My name is Andrew Dreyfus, and I am president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
I will briefly cover three topics:
We waived cost shares for medically necessary COVID-19 testing and treatment and covered all in-network medical and mental health visits via telehealth at no cost to members. We broadened access to mental health services, including permanently paying for behavioral health telehealth visits at in-person rates and increasing reimbursement for child psychiatry.
We acted swiftly to help our most vulnerable members. We created a COVID Risk Index to identify members at highest risk for contracting the virus and experiencing severe symptoms. We used zip codes and socioeconomic status to prioritize outreach in COVID hot spots. To date, our nurse case managers have reached out to 37,000 at risk members.
To support employers, we provided $100 million in premium relief, extended grace periods, helped provide coverage to furloughed workers, and have held webinars for 10,000 participants on issues ranging from mental health to racial disparities.
We supported providers by suspending administrative requirements, advancing payments, and creating a new value-based payment program for independent primary care practices, to improve quality, lower costs, and provide financial support during the pandemic.
Finally, we responded to the needs of our neighbors. Our employees worked at the Boston Hope field hospital, and with the Department of Public Health as contact tracers, and we have donated tens of thousands of meals from our company kitchens. Through our Foundation and company, we have made more than $10 million in direct contributions to the community in the fight against COVID.
DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND HEALTH INEQUITY
But we must do much more. COVID has reinforced the racism that pervades our health care system – just as racism afflicts nearly all aspects of our society – and taken a disproportionate toll on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. The causes of health disparities and inequity are deep and include such social determinants of health as poverty, housing, education, nutrition, and racial bias. Our company and Foundation have worked on these issues for two decades, but we have renewed our commitment this year, pledging to join others to fight racial inequities in health care.
We plan to gather new data from our members, work with health care providers to understand patterns of inequities and introduce targeted incentives and enhanced support to reduce disparities. We recognize that addressing health inequities will require the trust of our members and accounts, and we look forward to working with the HPC and CHIA in close collaboration with other payers, providers, the community and government.
HEALTH CARE VALUE AND AFFORDABILITY
Finally, I understand that this may be Chairman Altman's last hearing. Stuart: you have brought great credibility and integrity to the work of the Health Policy Commission. The Commonwealth owes you an enormous debt of gratitude.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
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SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts