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Charitable Foundation Cements Health Insurer's Commitment to Corporate Giving.

BCBSNC Foundation Will Fund Programs That Promote North Carolina's

Health and Well-Being

GREENVILLE, N.C., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ --

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), the state's largest health insurer, today announced the creation of a private foundation. The BCBSNC Foundation is being launched with $15 million and will support programs that increase access to health services for the uninsured, provide health education, promote healthy lifestyles and support health initiatives that target children, older adults and minorities.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20001114/CHTU015LOGO )

The announcement took place at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine, where the new BCBSNC Foundation made its first gift -- a $1 million donation to launch ECU CARE, a joint effort benefiting the uninsured in Eastern North Carolina. ECU CARE is an innovative new program designed to bring Eastern North Carolina's poorest families real and complete solutions for the complex health care problems they face.

"The new Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation will support programs, like ECU CARE, that speak directly to its mission of helping the people of North Carolina improve their health and well-being," said BCBSNC President and CEO Bob Greczyn, who also will serve as the Foundation's chairman and president. "Our Foundation will ensure that we can be a good neighbor to the people of North Carolina by funding worthy programs for years to come."

The BCBSNC Foundation will support programs and services in response to grant requests, as well as supporting needs identified by the Foundation. In identifying those opportunities, the Foundation will benefit from BCBSNC's longstanding relationships with the nonprofit community and will conduct comprehensive community outreach efforts.

The BCBSNC Foundation will fund programs that increase access to health care for needy and underserved populations; focus on health education and promotion of healthy lifestyles; promote health initiatives for children, adolescents, minorities and the elderly; support medical research; and promote cultural and life enrichment opportunities.

The BCBSNC Foundation was created with an initial investment of $15 million. The Foundation will be distinctive in the way it provides funding in that it will not limit itself to using its interest alone to fund programs. This will allow the Foundation to make significant gifts, such as the $1 million donation to Hurricane Floyd relief in 1999 and Tuesday's $1 million gift to ECU CARE.

"For 67 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has worked hard to be a good corporate citizen and to give back to the people of North Carolina," Greczyn added. "With this new Foundation, we will be working closely with communities across the state to identify and fund programs that have a positive impact on the health of North Carolinians."

Interest earned by the initial investment will fund many programs that are currently part of BCBSNC's administrative budget. These programs include:

Be Active North Carolina -- a campaign to encourage North Carolinians to

make physical activity part of their lives.

Breast Health Project -- an initiative designed to raise awareness of

breast cancer and the importance of proper screenings.

Basics of Bicycling -- a program that emphasizes bicycle safety for

children.

Healthy Community Institutes -- workshops that help nonprofit groups

across the state operate more efficiently and effectively through

strategic planning and board development.

The Foundation's first grant recipient, ECU CARE, exemplifies its mission.

Conceived by physicians at the Body School of Medicine, ECU CARE provides real health care solutions for those uninsured patients with the most limited financial and social resources and complex medical needs. ECU CARE offers qualifying patients financial assistance for services provided by physicians and other health care providers at the Brody School of Medicine and reduced pricing for designated prescriptions at Brody pharmacies.

Unlike many programs designed to care for the disadvantaged, ECU CARE is a "mainstreaming" program -- patients enrolled in ECU CARE receive services at Brody's clinics alongside paying patients.

"In its pilot stage, ECU CARE already has helped over a thousand people, and they have seen outstanding success," said Greczyn. "With our gift, they can enhance the services they offer and reach out to many more people who will benefit from this program. This entire region will be better off for the work that ECU CARE is doing."

ECU CARE estimates that 18 percent of the population of Eastern North Carolina falls below the federal poverty level (about $17,000 for a family of four). Thousands more are slightly above the poverty level, making them ineligible for government or other assistance. BCBSNC's gift will allow ECU CARE to as much as triple the number of people who benefit from the program by raising the income level for eligibility.

The Foundation's $1 million gift to ECU CARE will be awarded over four years and will be managed by the Medical Foundation of ECU, the official charity for ECU's Division of Health Sciences.

Organizations may learn more about the application process or apply for a Foundation grant by visiting the company's web site at www.bcbsnc.com.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to nearly 2 million members throughout North Carolina.

BCBSNC has earned Commendable Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCAU), an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to measuring the quality of America's health care.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSNC can be accessed online at www.bcbsnc.com.
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Date:Nov 14, 2000
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