Blue Cross NC wants to narrow gap of state’s racial, health disparities

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced its plan to implement a series of initiatives aimed at addressing and eliminating racial, health and geographical disparities in North Carolina.

Over the next few months, the company will launch three programs to provide strategic funding, capacity building for nonprofits and economic mobility for nonprofit organizations and government health entities serving rural and underserved communities and communities of color.

To improve North Carolina’s ranking as having the eleventh highest infant mortality rate in the country, the first initiative will focus on maternal and infant health, supporting Blue Cross NC’s goal to decrease racial disparities in maternal and child health care within the state by 50% in five years.

“Each and every person who gives birth deserves a safe and affirming pregnancy and delivery experience,” said Cheryl Parquet, director of community engagement and marketing activation at Blue Cross NC.

Blue Cross NC is committing $2 million to support evidence-based strategies that achieve significant improvement in infant and maternal health outcomes, specifically addressing disparities in Black, American Indian and Hispanic communities.

Until Nov. 12, 2021, Blue Cross NC is accepting collaborative proposals that demonstrate an ability to expand or replicate results in nearby communities and include a plan for sustainability beyond the funding period.

In North Carolina, Black, Hispanic and American Indian babies are up to 2.4 times more likely to die before age 1, and their birthing parents are more likely to experience increased levels of severe maternal morbidity or unexpected birth outcomes with health consequences.

“Some of our communities are seeing devastating outcomes on an unacceptably large scale. That’s why we’re investing in the programs and strategies that are making progress toward improving infant and maternal health outcomes for those most vulnerable,” said Parquet.

This call for proposals is part of Blue Cross NC’s larger effort to embed diversity, equity and inclusion into its ongoing work to advance health equity in North Carolina, support its strategic partnerships and diversify its workforce.

The company committed to decreasing racial disparities in maternal and child health care within the state by 50% in five years – aligning with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s national health equity strategy and maternal health goal.

Applications for funding can be submitted here. Informational webinar sessions will also be held to provide an overview of the application process and criteria. Complete this form to learn more and register for an upcoming session.

The other two programs to be announced in the coming months will focus on:

· Providing capacity building resources to support nonprofits with a mission to promote health equity, led by and for communities of color.

· Improving and expanding access to behavioral health providers among rural and other underserved communities.

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