Community Impact

We’re nurturing healthier communities from within, championing the right to access affordable and high-quality care and improving health equity for all we serve.

Transforming Health With Care

Led by a mission that advances health equity, we are responsible for ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to be healthy and live fully. This is why we back endeavors and innovations that support health outside traditional clinical settings. Our 2023 Mission Report, Transforming Health With Care, highlights the partnerships, collaborations and innovations brought forth to reshape healthcare.

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Behavioral Health Grants Drive Impact in First Year

In 2022, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield launched a funding initiative providing nearly $8 million in behavioral health grants and investments to 19 community-based organizations in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia over three years. Programs focused on eliminating barriers to accessible services for youth and expanding the number of available providers specializing in behavioral healthcare were prioritized through the application review process. Currently in year two of the initiative, funding recipients are on track to exceed anticipated results, impacting more than 25,000 people collectively.

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Scaling Health Equity Locally and Nationally

As one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare organizations in the country with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has the unique opportunity to drive national change while impacting our surrounding communities to advance affordable, accessible and equitable care for all. Brian D. Pieninck, President and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, joined the Becker's Healthcare Podcast to discuss strategies for addressing social drivers of health and promoting health equity regionally and nationally.

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CareFirst Hosts Western Maryland Community Health Forum

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield proudly hosted the first-ever Western Maryland Community Health Forum focused exclusively on health outcomes in Allegany, Washington and Garrett Counties. The event fostered discussion on the challenges community members face when it comes to achieving good health, social drivers of health (SDOH) that create barriers to accessing care, and what they see as solutions or ways to partner toward a better future for all.

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Prioritizing Community as an Anchor Institution

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield President and CEO Brian D. Pieninck recently joined Aaron Dante, host of No Pix After Dark, a primarily Baltimore-based culture and community podcast that highlights positivity and experiences. Aaron and Brian discussed CareFirst's role as an anchor institution in the Mid-Atlantic region, the future of healthcare, transportation, economic development, policy and more.

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Prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), our people are our strength. And, when all employees are valued equally, it makes us even stronger. CareFirst’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a key leader in the creation of a work environment that values, supports and represents a labor force comprised of many experiences, cultures and backgrounds.

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CareFirst and Business Volunteers Maryland Host Skilled Volunteering Event

Access to education is an essential aspect of the health of a community beyond clinical intervention. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) was proud to host Business Volunteers Maryland (BVM) and Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) to support and advance educational opportunities through the BVM skillCONNECT program, connecting City Schools to volunteers for pro-bono consulting, discussion and ideation.

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CareFirst and the American Heart Association Host Pitch Competition for Maryland Black Farmers

Kim Harris WBJ Award

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) proudly hosted the American Heart Association’s pitch competition for participants of their first-ever EmPOWERED to Serve Business AcceleratorTM focused exclusively on Maryland Black Farmers. Five participants pitched their ideas to a panel of judges in a grand finale event at CareFirst’s Canton Crossing headquarters for a chance at additional grant funding to grow and scale their businesses.

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CareFirst Named a 2024 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree® for the 12th Consecutive Year

CareFirst WMEC Article

As one of the country’s largest not-for-profit healthcare companies, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) understands the importance of leading with integrity to ensure we are fulfilling our purpose and working toward our mission to ensure that healthcare is accessible to and affordable for our members, employees and communities.

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Ensuring everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy

Kim Harris WTOP

Health equity means making certain that every person has the opportunity to achieve their optimum health. Unfortunately, many social and environmental factors can limit a person’s access to and continued use of good health practices and healthcare. Reducing, challenging or overcoming these obstacles requires adaptive changes and is a top priority for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. In an interview with WTOP News, Kimberly Harris, CareFirst’s Director of Community Health and Social Impact, discusses the investments CareFirst makes to uplift the disadvantaged and advance health equity.

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In the Spotlight: Kimberly Harris

Kim Harris WBJ Award

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) proudly serves as a partner and advocate for communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. We invest in solutions that can have a meaningful impact on the social drivers of health, or the social and environmental factors that impact overall health, to minimize health disparities, reduce healthcare costs and advance equity. We make these investments and partner with local organizations through the work of our Community Health and Social Impact team, in which Kimberly Harris serves as Director. CareFirst celebrates Kimberly as one of the Washington Business Journal’s 2024 Diversity in Business Award Honorees.

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CareFirst Recognized by Executive Alliance with Honor Roll Award for Women’s Representation

executive alliance

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is at the heart of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s (CareFirst) mission, goals and business decisions as one of the country’s largest not-for-profit healthcare organizations representing a large, diverse member population. As a core value, we promote a diverse workforce through various programs and seek out opportunities in our strategic planning to support DEI for women and employees from all backgrounds. CareFirst is proud to be a recipient of the 2024 Honor Roll Designation by Executive Alliance. Directly reflecting our company values, this award recognizes the representation of women at the highest levels in Maryland businesses and organizations.

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Combatting Diabetes: A Multifaceted Approach to Community Well-Being

diabetes

Diabetes is a pervasive health issue in the U.S., affecting nearly 1 in 10 Americans, with an additional 88 million adults at risk of developing the disease. The economic ramifications are staggering, contributing significantly to healthcare costs to the tune of $327 billion annually through both direct medical costs and the toll of reduced productivity. 

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Empowering Baltimore's Health and Wellness Through CareFirst's Engagement Center

Shar Ferrell

Welcome to the CareFirst Engagement Center (CEC), where health isn't just a card in your pocket but a partner in your life. It's where you can access the tools and resources you need, regardless of your insurance status. This groundbreaking initiative is a testament to CareFirst's commitment to improving the lives of its members and the broader community. 

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Advancing Health Equity Beyond the Doctor’s Office: The Mission of Washington, D.C.’s Health Equity Fund

Djinge Lindsay

To address health inequities our healthcare systems, including payers, providers and public health systems, must work collectively to create ecosystems that make it easy for all people to be healthy. In 2022, the Health Equity Fund was established to improve health outcomes for all Washington, D.C. residents, with a laser focus on those residents who have been historically disadvantaged. 

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Heart Disease Doesn't Stand Still. Neither Should We.

Doctor checking patient heart

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups. One person dies every 33 seconds in the U.S. from heart disease. In 2021, that accounted for 1 of every 5 deaths. Including healthcare services, medicines, and lost productivity, heart disease costs the U.S. nearly $240 billion annually. Its toll—both in terms of personal and financial costs—is truly staggering.

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Speak Up: CareFirst's 2023 Annual Report Reflects Company's Commitment to Ethical Behavior, Compliance, Transparency

Speak up

In 2022, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) remained the largest not-for-profit healthcare insurer in the mid-Atlantic region, employing nearly 5,800 full-time individuals and serving 3.6 million members in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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Advocating for Increased Access to Healthcare for Immigrants

Mother and daughter

CareFirst submitted comments on a Federal proposed rule that, if finalized, would expand access to healthcare coverage for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. We believe everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or citizenship status, deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare.

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Advocating for Increased Access to Nutritious Food for Children and Families

Girl Holding Food Tray

CareFirst recognizes the impact unmet social needs like food security have on the health of our communities. As part of our mission to reduce disparities in health outcomes, we strongly support two Federal proposed rules that, if finalized, would expand access to no-cost meals for children and nutritious foods for families.

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Partnerships That Strengthen Our Communities In Maryland

teens in support group

In Maryland, CareFirst is proud to partner with the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens to feed minds, grow leaders, and let our communities know they matter though our support of The Food Project and The Fresh Food Mobile.

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CareFirst Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2022

teens in support group

To deliver on our mission of advancing better health outcomes through affordable, accessible equitable and quality healthcare for the people we serve and our communities, CareFirst prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion internally as reflected in our employee demographics in 2022. Through hiring, supporting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce, we are working towards a truly diverse workforce that represents our member populations.

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Partnerships That Strengthen Our Communities In The National Capital Area

Thank you Meals

CareFirst partners with the Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics, Washington Nationals and Washington Wizards grow food security in Wards 7 and 8 through support of The Well at Oxen Run and The Giving Garden, and at various food and produce distribution efforts.

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Mountain Laurel Medical Center Enhances Dental Care for Rural Communities with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Grant 

Dental care

As one of six federally qualified health care centers chosen for the grant, Mountain Laurel is leveraging their community health workers and reformulating the way they connect underserved or at-risk patients to dental care with the additional funding from CareFirst.

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Investing in Behavioral Health with Nearly $8 Million in Grants

teens in support group

Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Ph.D., Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact at CareFirst, spoke with WTOP News about CareFirst’s recent grant investment of nearly $8 million in behavioral health programming throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

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New Tool Offers Connection To Free, Low-Cost Social Services

Findhelp logo

CareFirst is working with findhelp to connect members, employees, and residents in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and parts of Northern Virginia—regardless of whether they are a CareFirst member—to free or reduced-cost social and health services.

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State of Behavioral Health in the National Capital Region

woman talking to doctor

On Tuesday, March 14th, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) hosted a timely thought leadership discussion on Behavioral Health. The event convened a group of Behavioral Health thought leaders and partners at Whitman-Walker Health's new event space, "The Corner," to discuss the connection between workforce development, economic opportunity, and access to behavioral healthcare for youth in historically low-income communities and communities of color.

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Reducing Barriers to Healthcare with Untraditional Investments and Partners

woman buying vegetables

Kimberly Harris, Director of Community Health and Social Impact for the National Capital Area at CareFirst, spoke with WTOP News about CareFirst’s community efforts including partnerships and investments to better health outcomes in the mid-Atlantic region.

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Advocating for More Equitable and Inclusive Transit-Oriented Development in Maryland

man in bus

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield recently had the opportunity to provide a written testimony in favor of more equitable and inclusive transit-oriented development in the state of Maryland. Tricia Swanson shared a testimony in support of House Bill 12 (HB 12), Equitable and Inclusive Transit-Oriented Development Enhancement Act, as it would establish a capital grant and revolving loan fund to promote equitable and inclusive development around State-designated Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) sites to bring more TODs benefits to communities around Maryland.

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Is Healthcare in Maryland Affordable?

piggy bank and coins

Earlier this year, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) commissioned NORC at the University of Chicago—an independent, nonpartisan research organization—to perform a field survey.

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Economic Inclusion – Provider, Payer and Community Partnerships Driving Total Cost of Care

community walking together

Kimberly Harris, Director of Community Health and Social Impact for the National Capital Area at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, moderated a panel with The Healthcare Financial Management Association where she and community partners discussed how economic inclusion impacts overall health.

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Preventing, Managing Diabetes Through A Holistic Approach

Man Using glaucometer

More people today are living with diabetes than ever before. CareFirst is advancing a multi-pronged approach to help drive down costs associated with diabetes care and promote preventative healthcare measures for individuals living with diabetes through advocacy and partnerships, community support, and complete care solutions.

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Economic Inclusion Opens Minds, Eyes and Doors to Opportunity

community walking together

Kimberly Harris, Director of Community Health and Social Impact for the National Capital Area at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, moderated a panel with The Healthcare Financial Management Association where she and community partners discussed how economic inclusion impacts overall health.

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The Giving Garden Brings Fresh Food to Wards 7 and 8

Volunteers

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) has partnered with the Washington Nationals to support Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) through the Giving Garden, which puts approximately 12 tons of produce into the hands of residents in Wards 7 and 8 annually.

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Promoting, Preserving, Protecting the Health of Our Communities

doctor and patient

In 2021, CareFirst invested $25.8 million through more than 350 unique, regional nonprofit partnerships to address social determinants of health and advance positive systemic and environmental change. Learn more about our funding priorities.

New Offerings for Providers Support Healthier Communities

Husband and wife smiling

At CareFirst, we understand the value of good relationships between us, providers and our member populations. Our relationship with provider’s translates to a good member experience, and that’s why we’ve redesigned our On-Demand Provider Courses page on the Learning and Engagement Center, so providers can find training opportunities that pertain to their role and specialty.

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Appreciating Diversity Within Diversity

A multiethnic work group

A. Tonya Odom, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, recently shared with AFRO American Newspapers the key differences between categorization and bias. She also discusses with the Baltimore Business Journal how companies are rethinking DEI to promote a healthy work culture.

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CareFirst and SAFE Invest in the Futures of Baltimore Youth

A Group of children and adults stand in front of a grey brick building

CareFirst Difference Makers and our Community Health and Social Impact team recently spent the day at the Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Inc. (SAFE), one of the organizations that received funds during this round, where they learned about their programming and worked with kids on woodworking.

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Addressing Food Insecurity, Economic Stability For Youth In Southwest Baltimore

Volunteers

Increasing access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for our members and those living in the communities we serve continues to be a top priority for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst). But we know medical care is estimated to only account for 10-20% of a person’s overall health, with social, economic and environmental factors accounting for the remaining 80-90%.

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Supporting Oral Health to Improve Overall Health in Underserved Communities

Volunteers

The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Plan of Maryland is providing six, $50,000 grants to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) throughout Maryland to increase community-based, patient-directed dental health care. The $300,000 in funding will support additional staff, preventative and routine oral treatments, patient engagement and community outreach, and a spectrum of dental services for under- and uninsured clients.

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Investing to Support Diverse Nonprofits and Small Businesses

Volunteers

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) recently announced a grant investment of up to $2.2 million to 16 small businesses and diverse nonprofits in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia collectively serving over 30,000 people. These grants will provide resources and guidance to new and existing nonprofits and small businesses to address obstacles that negatively impact company growth, scalability and long-term sustainability.

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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Community Food Relief Program Donates Over 130,000 Meals

Volunteers packing box of food

As part of CareFirst's ongoing commitment to addressing food insecurity in our service region, we created the Community Food Relief Program. We are proud to announce the program has surpassed 130,000 meals delivered to underserved populations experiencing food insecurity throughout the region.

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Working to Promote Health Equity

Girl eating an apple

To improve the quality of care for historically excluded populations, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) has launched a Health Equity web page for healthcare delivery partners.

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Investing $1.71M to Address the Diabetes Epidemic

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield recently announced grant recipients of $1.71 million to combat the diabetes epidemic. The investment was distributed to 27 organizations across Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C. (Wards 7 and 8), Western Maryland, Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Feeding the Skilled Nursing Facilities 2021

group delivering boxes

At CareFirst, we are committed to addressing food insecurity in our service region, and healthcare workers are often overlooked in interventions. From Dec. 27- Dec. 31, 2021, CareFirst partnered with local catering companies to provide nearly 3,000 meals to 24 skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and long-term acute care facilities in our service area.

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CareFirst Community Health & Social Impact Efforts

Woman sereving food

Dr. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health & Social Impact for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield discusses work in support of our communities as health begins in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in our neighborhoods and communities.

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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Week of Equity & Action 2021

Man holding sign. Be Authentic

From October 18-22, 2021, CareFirst hosted its 2nd Annual Week of Equity & Action, which serves as an opportunity for our employees to listen, learn and act—giving employees the tools to cultivate empathy and understanding of each other in the workplace and the community.

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Community Report: Leading Through a Public Health Crisis

Socially distant group chat

CareFirst was featured in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) annual Community Investment Report highlighting efforts aligned with investing $6.8 million since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

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How Vaccines and Cycling can Help Combat COVID

Man riding bicycle

As the new Delta variant spreads, it remains critically important for individuals to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. CareFirst’s Dr. Yvette Oquendo-Berruz explains how vaccines and physical activity can help individuals positively navigate the pandemic.

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Providing Additional Funds in Support of COVID-19 Relief

Men working in a workshop while wearing masks

CareFirst recently announced plans to commit an additional $2.2 million to total $8 million invested in COVID-19 relief to community organizations on the front lines of the pandemic.

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How Can We Make Things Better Than They Were Before?

Women in wheelchair shaking hands

Brian Pieninck, President and Chief Executive Officer for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, recently authored a commentary piece on a new and better “normal,” posing the question of what new normal are we willing to accept?

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Event Recap: Reimagining the Workplace Post-COVID

Woman in wheelchair talking to two other people

The Baltimore and Washington Business Journals recently partnered with CareFirst to host a virtual event discussing how the pandemic has forced employers to address new workforce and workplace realities.

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Return to the Office, Stay at the Kitchen Table, or Both?

man opening door to work

Angela Celestin, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, CareFirst, recently shared insights with the Business Journals on the future of the workplace post-pandemic and strategies to keep employees energized whether at home, in the office or a hybrid of the two.

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Creating Conditions That Promote Health Equity

Volunteers handing out produce

Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, spoke with David Nevins at CityBizList on pandemic related philanthropic initiatives and CareFirst’s priorities post-pandemic.

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Joining the Healthcare Industry Because of the Changes in Healthcare

informal business meeting

Angela Celestin, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, CareFirst, recently spoke with Managed Healthcare Executive magazine about her experience as a human resources executive.

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The Keys to Reaching Immunity in Underserved Communities

mother and 3 daughters laughing

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield recently hosted a town hall discussion around “Access and Equity: The Keys to Reaching Immunity in Underserved Communities,” moderated by Dr. Destiny Simone-Ramjohn.

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Q&A: Better Together with Mary's Center

mother holding newborn baby

In the following Q&A, CareFirst talks with Mary's Center about how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted some of the District's most vulnerable residents and how funding from CareFirst will help D.C. communities break free from the unrelenting grip of the pandemic.

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How Grants Awarded to FQHCs Can Combat COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption

doctors and nurses in a meeting

Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact, recently spoke to The AFRO about grants awarded to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in support of removing barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine to combat racial disparities in vaccine distribution and adoption.

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Making a Difference During COVID-19

Making a Difference During COVID-19

From the very start of the pandemic, CareFirst has been there for its members, employers, healthcare partners, employees and communities. See some of the ways we've offered support to those we serve thus far.

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This is Our Shot to Leave COVID-19 Behind

It's our shot to leave COVID behind

See CareFirst’s new public health ad urging people to get vaccinated when they can. The TV spot, part of CareFirst’s new Better Together campaign to support the nation’s historic vaccine effort, recently aired in local markets.

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Panel Discussion: Reaching Immunity Takes A Community

virtual panel discussion

CareFirst expands the impact of its Better Together COVID-19 vaccination adoption campaign during a virtual panel discussion, inviting fellow community leaders to take a pledge to educate and encourage their employees to get vaccinated when they’re able.

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The Key to Leading During COVID-19: Partnerships in Support of Community Health

The Key to Leading During COVID-19: Partnerships in Support of Community Health

The following panel discussion features CareFirst executives highlighting leadership efforts throughout the pandemic while sharing tangible information to encourage businesses to define their way of assisting, advocating and educating alongside fellow Baltimore businesses.

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Where Will Healthcare CEOs be Focusing Their Efforts in 2021?

CareFirst President & CEO Brian D. Pieninck

Online publisher Health Evolution sat down with industry leaders, including CareFirst’s President and CEO, Brian D. Pieninck, to talk about trends that will continue to shape healthcare.

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A Better, Healthier ‘Normal’ can be Achieved

Doctor patient consultation

CareFirst President & CEO Brian D. Pieninck explains why now is the time to seize the opportunity to reimagine a new healthcare system—one rooted in value, not volume.

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