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Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina investing $50 million to combat opioid epidemic, cut premium increases

CEO Patrick Conway said the organization will also invest in new consumer-facing tool to improve customer experience.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

BSBC North Carolina office in Durham, NC - Credit: Google Street ViewBSBC North Carolina office in Durham, NC - Credit: Google Street View

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has announced that it is investing $50 million in community health initiatives, including funds to combat the opioid epidemic, pay bonuses and lower future premium increases.

Most of the funds, $40 million, come from tax savings due to the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

[Also: Citing cost, BCBS North Carolina CEO Patrick Conway comes out against Carolinas, UNC merger]

Additional tax savings will be invested in new consumer-facing technologies designed to improve the customer experience and help them navigate the healthcare system. It will also allow Blue Cross NC to give employees a $1,000 bonus.

Because of the tax law savings, Blue Cross NC said it expected to lower premium increases in its next rate filing, according to Blue Cross NC President and CEO, Patrick Conway, the former director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

"Healthy communities are foundational for healthy North Carolinians," Conway said. "As a practicing pediatrician, I know investments to improve early childhood development and address social determinants of health lead to better health outcomes and lower costs. We look forward to continuing to invest in North Carolina's communities and using future tax savings to offset premium increases for our customers."

Allocations include $10 million to address the opioid epidemic including $1 million to TROSA, a multi-year residential program for substance abusers and $390,000 to The  University of North Carolina School of Government in a partnership to develop community-based solutions over the next two years.

Another $10 million will go to early childhood development, including $1 million to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Blue Cross NC will donate $2 million to InterAct to help fund its new Family Justice Center in Raleigh, as part of its $15 million donation for social determinants of health.

Another $15 million will go to primary care initiatives, including $1.2 million into the continuation of the Physician Assistant Studies Program and $1 million to Duke Healthy Community programs focused on community health and access to care.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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