CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Awards Beneficiaries $1.76 Million to Fight the Diabetes Epidemic

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Non-profit organization CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), one of the largest health care companies in the Mid-Atlantic region, has awarded a $1.76 million grant to help fight the epidemic of diabetes, the organization announced this week.

The funds were distributed among 27 local health improvement coalitions, boards of health and collaborations working to address the upstream social determinants of health, or social and environmental factors, that impact the severity or likelihood of developing diabetes.

The investment is part of ongoing efforts to address chronic disease as part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) National Health Equity Strategy.

This round of investments is Phase I of CareFirst’s $10.5 million plan, announced last year, to fight diabetes.


CareFirst President and CEO Brian Pieninck said inequalities in economic and environmental conditions “negatively impact health and behavioral outcomes associated with diabetes prevention and control.” He called for working with partners to improve factors that contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes.

In 2020, CareFirst worked with Socially Determined, a Washington DC-based healthcare analytics company, to analyze social risk factors and identify pilot communities whose residents would benefit from interventions that prevent or treat diabetes through for Phase 1 grant funding.

Examination of this health data in the CareFirst service area revealed that SDOHs, such as food and nutrition security, housing stability, health literacy and other factors, have a significant impact on the likelihood of developing diabetes or prediabetes, with African American and Hispanic populations being disproportionately affected by the disease.

Organizations from identified pilot communities were invited to submit a grant proposal, including the City of Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Washington DC (Wards 7 and 8). In addition, organizations outside of these pilot communities in Western Maryland, Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, Central Maryland, and Eastern Shore Maryland were invited to submit proposals for their work on the diabetes in the CareFirst service area beyond those identified for the pilot.

During this first round of funding, CareFirst prioritized grassroots organizations and local health coalitions promoting economic inclusion, educational opportunity, behavioral health, chronic disease, and accessible, affordable, high-quality care. quality to address the root causes of health disparities and diabetes in historically marginalized communities. .

These financial investments should strengthen organizational capacity, community and health system partnerships, and support innovative interventions to respond to existing work being done by local community health partners, CareFirst said.


CareFirst isn’t the only healthcare organization making efforts to fight diabetes. Banner|Aetna, a joint venture owned by Banner Health and Aetna/CVS, partnered with Virta Health on a type 2 diabetes reversal program earlier this month. The program is available to more than 100,000 members of Banner|Aetna’s fully insured and administrative services Groups Only.

Virta combines personalized nutrition and virtual care to achieve normal blood sugar levels without drugs. Its carbohydrate-restricted nutritional therapy is consistent with recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, the company said.

In a Competitive Insurance Market, Diabetes Program Gives Banner Health Plan | Aetna a benefit that aligns with the broader industry shift toward disease reversal.

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