At a time when health care providers face significant challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York recently announced it distributed $2.1 million in relief for nearly 150 local primary care provider (PCP) groups through its COVID-19 Provider Relief Program (PRP).
This adds to the region’s leading health plan’s efforts to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the local health care system. Other recent efforts include:
• Accelerating quality incentive payments totaling more than $2 million.
• Reimbursing providers at 100% for telehealth visits, which remain at no-cost share to fully insured and commercial BlueCross BlueShield members through the end of the year.
BlueCross BlueShield is also finalizing plans on a new reimbursement program for doctors and nurse practitioners to help cover the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) within their practices.
PRP funds were recently dispersed to qualifying independent PCP practices who experienced a reduction in revenue compared to baseline metrics, among several other factors stemming from the pandemic. This included operational impacts, such as staffing, and costs incurred to improve telehealth capabilities. The local health plan also considered whether the provider continued to serve patients during the pandemic, including through telehealth, as part of the criteria.
“The health of our community rises and falls with primary care. We’ve witnessed the impact that the dual health and economic crises has had on our providers as they shifted their practices to meet the health care needs of their patients, our members,” said physician Thomas E. Schenk, executive vice president, chief medical officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. “Aligned with our mission as a not-for-profit health plan rooted in the community for over 80 years, we continue to listen, respond and make every effort to support the health care providers our members rely on, especially at this time.”
Family/general medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and independent nurse practitioners, acting as a PCP practice, were among providers who received funding.
In addition, as part of their ongoing efforts to support the community during the pandemic, BlueCross BlueShield donated $1 million to the WNY COVID-19 Response Fund to address the most critical and immediate community needs. The health plan also dedicated a team of health professionals to provide personal outreach and support to members during this time of uncertainty and has since connected with 25,000 members to offer wellness check-ins. These actions are in addition to funding 100% of the cost of more than 70,000 COVID-19 tests for their members in Western New York since April.
Additional resources and information on BlueCross BlueShield’s response is available at www.bcbswny.com/coronavirus.