(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc. (GHMSI) — a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) affiliate, and DC Appleseed announce the creation of a $95 million fund to address healthcare disparities for historically underserved District residents. This Health Equity Fund will be a crucial tool for addressing long-standing health inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to transform our healthcare system and attack disparities in health outcomes, this historic, $95 million Health Equity Fund will allow us to implement strategies specific to the needs of our communities,” said Mayor Bowser. “This is a unique opportunity to double down on solutions that promote DC HOPE – health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity. This resolution has been a long time coming, and I want to thank and congratulate all the parties who came together to move us forward into this next phase of building a healthier, more equitable DC.”
Mayor Bowser and GHMSI will appoint a seven-member Health Equity Committee to oversee the Fund. The Committee will establish healthcare improvement metrics, review and approve proposals, and monitor grant recipients to ensure compliance with grant agreements. The Health Equity Committee will consider applicants that address the following:
- Health and health equity of residents in the District
- Social and environmental issues that have an impact on healthcare of District residents
- Social determinants of health including education, employment, income, housing, transportation, food, environment, medical care, outdoor environment and community safety issues that have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes
“We’re excited to partner with the District to make significant and impactful investments that will help ensure District residents have equitable access to quality care,” said CareFirst President and CEO Brian D. Pieninck. “The Health Equity Fund will provide much-needed resources in the wake of long-standing disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a not-for-profit healthcare company with headquarters in the District, we look forward to supporting innovative solutions that will advance health equity. The Health Equity Fund represents an initiative that will help change the future of healthcare delivery by supporting people’s whole health including physical, mental and emotional well-being. This is just the latest investment as part of CareFirst’s ongoing commitment to improving health while increasing accessibility, affordability and quality of care for all those who live, work and play in the communities and neighborhoods we serve across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.”
The establishment of the Fund by GHMSI is the result of the resolution of DC Appleseed’s litigation related to GHMSI’s 2011 surplus and will further its commitment to the District of Columbia and its residents through community reinvestment to address healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes.
“I want to thank CareFirst for this investment, which will lead to an extraordinary outcome for the District and its residents,” said District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking Commissioner Karima M. Woods. “I’d like to also thank DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice for their efforts to help bring this matter to a close for District residents who will benefit greatly from their hard work and diligence.”
“We are proud to have worked with the Mayor, the Insurance Commissioner, and CareFirst to have settled this case; we are even more proud that the settlement will bring $95 million to address pressing health needs in the District,” said Executive Director of DC Appleseed Walter Smith.
The District is required to periodically review GHMSI’s surplus to ensure that the company is satisfying its community health reinvestment obligations in the District and is not retaining excessive funds beyond the amount necessary to pay claims to its policyholders. The Fund’s creation is part of an agreed resolution of proceedings involving the District, DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and GHMSI.
About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
In its 84th 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 3.5 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2020, CareFirst invested $27.8 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 its website at carefirst.com and its transforming healthcare page at carefirst.com/transformation, or go to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
About DC Appleseed
DC Appleseed solves problems affecting the daily lives of those who live and work in the National Capital area. They work with volunteer attorneys, business leaders, and community experts to identify pressing challenges, conduct research and analysis, make specific recommendations for reform, and implement effective solutions.