2020 Hero May%2015 Axios%20Event COVID-19

The Hidden Health Crisis

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) was pleased to sponsor the Axios virtual event, The Hidden Health Crisis, which featured interviews with key health care leaders including  Highmark Health President and CEO David Holmberg, Rep. Lauren Underwood (Ill.) and Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They discussed the underlying health challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, how they are addressing them and took a look to the future driven by data and experience.

Here are some key takeaways:

The importance of having “partnerships when you’re fighting a fight like this.” Highmark President and CEO David Holmberg shared how his integrated company tracked early data from its health systems, both from clinical experience and medical claims, to pinpoint exactly where an outbreak in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began—a church. Holmberg and his team quickly alerted government officials and were able to work towards a solution and “nip it in the bud before it got away from everybody.” He attributed their success in containing the outbreak to their partnerships with local officials and with regional companies who used their manufacturing systems to produce critical protective gear for frontline health care workers.

“Public health emergencies and disasters often exacerbate pre-existing health care and economic disparities.” In Illinois, one-third of COVID-19 deaths are among African Americans, according to Rep. Lauren Underwood, and “that’s just in Illinois.” The congresswoman and former nurse emphasized the importance of providing communities of color, vulnerable communities and underserved communities with accessible tests, treatment and public education campaigns, so they can better understand symptoms and how to reduce the spread of this disease.   

“Our social support system is down.” Andy Slavitt, former acting administer for CMS, explained how the need for mental health support is dramatic, both now and coming out of this pandemic. The public and private sectors need to pay attention to supporting people’s mental health needs, as they have a long lasting impact.

Watch the full event here.



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