More on Community Benefit

CareFirst acquires University of Maryland's health plans and begins partnership

The new five-year partnership has a goal of providing access to quality care for vulnerable individuals in the state.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

Baltimore, Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has acquired the University of Maryland's Health Advantage Medicare dual-eligible special needs health plan and its Medicaid managed care organization, University of Maryland Health Partners.

CareFirst acquired the health plans intact, so the 55,000 patients served by them may continue to see their network providers.

Both health plans will be rebranded under new names – the dual-eligible special needs plan will become CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Medicare Advantage and the Medicaid plan will be the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Plan Maryland.

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The finalization of the acquisition and name change is subject to regulatory approval and consent from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the State of Maryland.


The acquisition adds to CareFirst's dominance in the Maryland Medicaid market. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It is also a part of a new five-year strategic partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System that has a goal of providing access to quality care for vulnerable individuals in the state. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The two organizations plan to target high-risk patients, such as those with chronic conditions and health inequities, to improve the population's health outcomes overall.

"Specifically, the work will bring new approaches to using shared data that drive improved population health outcomes by supporting the identification and delivery of the most effective care and support for vulnerable populations," CareFirst said in a statement. "This joint effort allows CareFirst and UMMS to take coordinated action, focused on investing in healthier communities and improving health equity in Maryland."


Over recent months CareFirst has launched several other initiatives to help its vulnerable members. In August, it donated $1 million to help distribute masks, hand sanitizer and no-touch tools for its high-risk members across Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. Then last month, it entered into a partnership with MedStar, a not-for-profit healthcare provider organization, to offer value-based healthcare to the communities they serve.

These sorts of community benefitting actions have been popular during the pandemic as a way for healthcare organizations to help the members they serve get by. Other examples include Independence BlueCross of Philadelphia and its partner Signify Health launching CommunityLink, a community-based organization network targeting the social determinants of health in the area. RWJBarnabas Health also recently launched Health Beyond the Hospital, a social determinant of health screening and referral program.


"With this partnership, we are substantially expanding CareFirst's commitment to advancing more accessible and more affordable healthcare for all Marylanders. As a not-for-profit healthcare company, serving all residents through time and circumstance is an essential expression of our mission," said Brian Pieninck, the CEO and president of CareFirst.

"This partnership brings the best capabilities of CareFirst and UMMS together in a new model and is part of our broader efforts designed to deliver care focused on value and improved health outcomes. Our work with the UMMS team will provide opportunities for deeper collaboration and innovation designed to bring our shared communities greater value, expanded access to high quality care, better consumer experiences, and more equitable care for all Maryland residents."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
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