As COVID-19 continues to have an impact across the country and the mid-Atlantic region, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) is taking steps to respond to the consequences of this public health and economic crisis.
CareFirst has announced a $2 million contribution for COVID-19 relief efforts to community organizations, a volunteer program available for the company’s licensed clinicians and provided $170 million in advance provider payments, in addition to other ongoing relief efforts for community partners, members, providers and other stakeholders.
OVERVIEW OF RESPONSE EFFORTS
- CareFirst will contribute $2 million to community nonprofit organizations working to provide relief for communities’ health, social and economic needs.
- In a collaborative effort, CareFirst engaged more than 60 organizations in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia to understand the most critical needs arising from COVID-19. During the engagement process, the Plan enlisted insight from representatives of Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospitals, direct service organizations, community and private foundations, corporate funders and more. Through conversations with organizations, CareFirst has identified health, social and economic needs as funding priorities.
- CareFirst funds will help address complex and emerging health needs to close gaps in medical care access, minimize food insecurity and support the needs of economically vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted during the COVID-19 health crisis.
- Additionally, CareFirst contributions will help seniors quarantine in place by providing pharmacy and medication assistance, transportation and medically tailored meals.
- The Plan also developed a volunteer program for its employees who are licensed clinicians, allowing them the opportunity to volunteer their time, resources and expertise during this public health crisis. To help hospitals that reach capacity and respond to the demand for medical professionals, CareFirst implemented a paid volunteer program that offers licensed nurses and behavioral health clinicians working at CareFirst the opportunity to volunteer their services to support direct patient care.
- CareFirst is offering a new accelerated payment program to an array of healthcare providers experiencing financial strain due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This initiative is part of its ongoing commitment to support the communities it serves as they navigate the complexities of this public health crisis. Its combined provider-focused efforts will result in over $170 million in direct support of the healthcare delivery system during the pandemic.
- CareFirst and the Maryland State Medical Society (MedChi) announced a partnership to provide MedChi independent physician practices with five or fewer members a year of complimentary access to DrFirst’s Backline Telehealth platform. DrFirst is a Maryland-based company that offers secure telehealth services. This partnership will equip additional Maryland physicians with the technology they need to provide needed virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
- CareFirst launched a Community Food Relief Program in partnership with food service provider, Aramark. Cafeteria staff at three CareFirst facilities prepared and packaged cold, boxed meals for organizations impacted by COVID-19. Prepared food has helped close the gap organizations are facing to serve their beneficiaries. During the first six weeks of the program, more than 5,500 meals were distributed.
- CareFirst has joined a major workforce initiative to help the recently unemployed re-train and enter careers of the future. This effort, “RetrainAmerica,” is spearheaded by Catalyte in partnership with businesses and government.
- CareFirst is participating in a public-private regional COVID-19 partnership with the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and other local hospital systems, to centralize coordination and regional mobilization of all available resources to provide better care to more people and minimize the dramatic effects this disease will have on our communities.
- To support local health departments and hospital resources in the identification and analysis of populations at higher risk to the effects of COVID-19, as well as ongoing surge readiness and management, CareFirst has utilized health indicators and member data to develop an interactive web-based resource. This tool and accompanying resource support have been made available to every hospital and health department in the region.
- The Plan is proactively reaching out to high risk members, including those with an admission or emergency department visit in the last 90 days, immunosuppressant or specialty pharmacy utilizations and individuals identified as being at risk or vulnerable based on clinical conditions, demographics, age, core target status, social vulnerability index score, and several other factors.
- Members can receive testing, visits related to testing and treatment of COVID-19 at zero cost share – that is, without copays, coinsurance or deductibles. CareFirst is also providing enhanced coverage of virtual visits, including zero cost share access for all telehealth visits to in-network providers and zero cost share access to CareFirst Video Visit.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies