CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Establishes $5 Million Personal Protective Equipment Initiative for Coronavirus Relief

Posted on 2020-07-08
Updated on 2020-07-08 12:50:25

“Care, delivered” Initiative secured 1.6 million units of PPE to be distributed at no-cost to organizations

Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C. – Today, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) announced its new initiative, “Care, delivered,” a $5 million public-private sector philanthropic endeavor that will distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) at no-cost to healthcare and social service organizations on the front lines of the pandemic. This initiative is part of CareFirst’s ongoing commitment to support the communities it serves as they navigate the complexities of this public health crisis.

Among other issues with PPE, the pandemic revealed a fragile and uneven supply chain where small healthcare providers and nonprofits were often unable to access essential safety equipment due to limited availability, minimum orders with high-volumes, and rising costs. To address this need, CareFirst accessed a network of reputable PPE suppliers to deliver equipment that meets FDA-approved and related industry requirements and standards. CareFirst will distribute 1.6 million gowns, gloves, masks and face shields to community-based organizations, federally qualified health centers and independent primary care providers in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia who are on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“CareFirst remains committed to supporting the health and safety of the communities we serve. This includes taking action to ensure healthcare professionals working on the front lines, who put their own health at risk to provide high quality care to patients, can do so appropriately protected with the right equipment,” said CareFirst’s CEO and President, Brian D. Pieninck. “While PPE is more widely available today than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, who it is available to and how it is allocated remains an ongoing concern. Achieving equitable access in healthcare is imperative. This investment is part of our broader commitment to maximizing the community health and social impact of our philanthropic dollars in ways that meet the unique needs of the communities we serve, not just during the pandemic but beyond this public health crisis.”

During the first wave of the initiative, close to 200 healthcare and social service organizations will be invited to receive CareFirst’s PPE. These organizations include, but are not limited to, community clinics and organizations providing home visiting services to seniors, nonprofits providing services to individuals experiencing homelessness or substance use disorders and independent primary care practices serving Medicare and Medicaid populations. Special priority will be given to smaller organizations located in “hot spots” for coronavirus cases.

The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PPE Response Fund will be administered in partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation to help meet the ongoing need for PPE. In this collaborative effort, CareFirst engaged the Community Foundation to help identify PPE recipients and cultivate potential donors. Potential donors interested in partnering with CareFirst and contributing to the “Care, delivered” initiative are encouraged to contact community@carefirst.com for additional information.

This contribution is part of CareFirst’s ongoing philanthropic commitment to aid in communities’ COVID-19 response and relief efforts. In March, CareFirst contributed $2 million to community nonprofit organizations working to address complex and emerging health, social and economic needs. The company also recently joined more than ten public and private partners to launch the Baltimore Health Corps pilot, a bold initiative designed to address Baltimore’s interconnected economic and public health crises caused by the pandemic. The Corps will recruit, train and hire over 300 unemployed Baltimore City residents to fill critical healthcare jobs such as, contact tracers, care coordinators and community health workers.

CareFirst has taken many steps to rapidly address the urgent needs local providers face as a result of COVID-19, which include:

  • Accelerated payments to an array of healthcare providers experiencing financial strain;
  • The launch of an online resource guide detailing direct payments, grants and loan opportunities available for providers and hospitals;
  • A collaborative public-private partnership with Baltimore City and local hospitals to expand citywide capacity response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Enhanced coverage and expanded reimbursement policies for virtual visits and telephonic consultations;
  • Elimination of prior authorizations for tests or treatments that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance for members diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Adjustment of several utilization management policies and practices to assist healthcare providers during the crisis; and,
  • Ongoing outreach to at-risk populations so they are better prepared to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and potential healthcare support.

CareFirst will continue to work to identify and alleviate barriers to coronavirus care and provide support, data and expertise for the communities it serves. Visit CareFirst’s website to remain up to date on the latest information.

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 83rd year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.3 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2019, CareFirst invested $43 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.