Why BCBSNC is investing $1M in NCCU's nursing program
As part of its $50 million investment in community health initiatives – largely funded by $40 million in tax savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is investing $1 million in N.C. Central University's nursing program.
In making the investment, BCBSNC references a recent study from Georgetown University that says North Carolina will be hard hit by a nursing shortage, particularly in rural parts of the state. According to the study, North Carolina's nursing shortage is projected to be the second largest in the U.S. with a deficit approaching 13,000 nurses.
"We are excited to be able to help NCCU admit and train new nurses, especially from rural North Carolina," Dr. Patrick Conway, president and CEO of BCBSNC, said in a statement. "To bring costs down and increase quality, we have to think more broadly about what it means to invest in health – this is a great example of that principle in action."
According to BCBSNC, the $1 million investment will be used by NCCU for the following:
Scholarships, Recruitment and Retention
Increase the number of low-income graduates from 781 in 2016 to 916 by 2022
Increase the number of rural area graduates from 344 in 2016 to at least 400 in 2022
Partner with local community colleges to increase the number of students in its RN to BSN program
Help prepare its students for the NCLEX [exam prior to practice]
[Upgrade technology] such as pediatric simulators to provide students with proper practical experience
"This significant gift for our Department of Nursing will ensure that NCCU will continue to fulfill a critical workforce demand for the state of North Carolina and supply compassionate care, knowledgeable practitioners and highly trained healthcare providers who serve the citizens of North Carolina," NCCU Chancellor Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye said in a statement.
BCBSNC's Conway stated at the end of last month that, "We look forward to continuing to invest in North Carolina's communities and using future tax savings to offset premium increases for our customers."
In an interview earlier in the year, Conway outlined plans the state's largest insurer has for keeping premiums down, including an emphasis on alternative payment models moving forward. The way to expanded risk-based arrangements, Conway said at the time, is "much deeper partnerships with providers."
"This really builds on work that I did at Medicare, where you partner with a provider in what's called an alternative payment model – a payment model where the provider's accountable for the quality and total costs of care for the population, things like accountable care organizations," he said.
Conway – a practicing physician – joined BCBSNC as CEO-elect Oct. 1 from his prior posts as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality, and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. He officially took the reins from longtime president and CEO Brad Wilson on Dec. 5.