Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is the largest non-profit health plan based in our state, covering nearly 3 million members across all market segments.  Effective APMs are core to our strategic plan of transforming and reinventing the health care system. One of the truths this pandemic has revealed is the unsustainability of a volume-based health care world where the profitability of sickness is greater than the profitability of wellness. COVID-19 has hastened the need for change to this old paradigm.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been a leader in forging innovative solutions to improve our state’s response. We were the first health insurer to join the state’s latest public health initiative to slow the spread of COVID-19, signing up more than 140 associates from across Blue Cross to volunteer as contact tracers for the Minnesota Department of Health. We also joined forces with a local health system to have local volunteers create and donate thousands of hand-sewn masks, preserving the supply of critical personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

Our response to the pandemic has focused on ways to use, encourage and improve effective APMs. In short order we implemented efforts to strengthen and stabilize our care delivery system. We provided cash-flow relief to providers in APMs, accelerating approximately $80 million in advance payments to providers for quality and cost standards achieved in 2019. We also advanced payments to providers for achievements made in innovation and transformation of care.

We have begun to build APMs with a coalition of rural hospitals. The preliminary focus with these hospitals is to build a model that emphasizes overall sustainability, both in terms of costs and continued access to rural health care.

We announced an APM partnership with the state’s largest care system and a network of 47 independent practices. Our new six-year, value-based payment agreement with Allina Health features expanded care management services and care coordination, more affordable sites for care delivery and more diverse access channels; timely data sharing; increased options for telehealth; and, crucially, a focus on improving quality and preventive care. The agreement aims to reduce the cost trend of Blue Cross-specific care at Allina Health by 10 percent over five years and will help more Minnesotans to improve and maintain their health.

And finally, the pandemic has not derailed our efforts to address health equality in Minnesota. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota believes that all people, regardless of race, income, ZIP code or other factors, should have opportunities to live the healthiest lives possible. We are continuing to make wellness and health equity growing priorities for all of our APMs, with a sharpened focus on metrics, transparency and programmatic investments that can address racial and health disparities throughout Minnesota.  We will be building into our quality provider programs specific and targeted quality improvement goals to reduce health disparities.