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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky Announces Release of State Health Index
Date:11/14/2007

Kentucky Ranks 47th Nationwide in Health Status; Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield provides funding to provide healthcare services to more than 5,000 Kentuckians located in the eastern and western parts of the Commonwealth

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield today launched its new State Health Index, a program that incorporates public health data to identify and help address major health issues in the state. Anthem has assembled a dedicated team to collaborate with local and state officials, as well as community organizations, to research the reasons behind the prevalent health deficiencies and to design policy solutions and implement or enhance programs aimed at improving overall health in the state.

Developed from data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Health Index ranks Kentucky 47th in the nation based on a comprehensive assessment of 23 measures of health status. Anthem has selected the following measures of improvement for its focus during the first several years of the SHI program as they have the most potential to be positively influenced by the actions of the company:

-- Prenatal Care in First Trimester

-- Low Birthweight Infant Rate

-- Adult Influenza Immunization Rate

-- Adult Pneumococcal Immunization Rate

-- Physical Activity Levels

-- Cigarette Smoking Rate

-- Diabetes in Adult Population

-- Heart Disease Death Rate

"As the largest health insurer in the state, we have a unique responsibility to understand and improve not only the health of our members, but also the overall health of the communities in which they live," said Deb Moessner, president and general manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "The State Health Index will provide Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and our public and private partners-state and local government, insurers, health care professionals and consumers-with a roadmap to guide our work to improve the overall health of our state."

Many of the health conditions incorporated in the State Health Index are a result of the number of Kentuckians who live in poverty and a number of environmental factors including the high percentage of Kentuckians who smoke; and the lack of prenatal care many women receive and the high percentage of Kentuckians who are obese and have a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, Kentucky has the lowest ranking in the nation for each of these measures.

Through two grants from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and in partnership with the Kentucky State Health Department and Western Kentucky University, more than 5,000 Kentuckians who live in counties that have been designated as medically underserved areas by the U.S. Public Health Service will receive free adult immunizations, prenatal care and access to lifestyle programs tied to diabetes management, heart disease prevention and maintenance and smoking cessation for pregnant women. In addition, for those who are uninsured, information and assistance in enrolling in government sponsored plans will also be provided. The grants total more than $545,000, and the health department and the university are both expected to begin offering the services within the next year.

According to Gary Ransdell, president of Western Kentucky University, the grant will help the school fulfill its mission of providing preventive and other services to Kentuckians located in communities that lack basic healthcare services.

"WKU is committed to improving the quality of life for all Kentuckians, especially those in our service region," said Gary Ransdell, president of Western Kentucky University. "The institute for Rural Health Development and Research has been providing preventative dental and medical services and health promotions through its mobile health unit since 2001. This grant will enable us to put a second unit into service, expanding the impact we are having on the medically underserved and uninsured in our region."

Richard Lane, M.D., who leads Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shields State Health Index efforts, says that through partnerships like the one established with Western Kentucky University, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be able to ensure the program are effective in achieving the desire outcomes.

"The guiding measures we have selected for the State Health Index provide a broad snapshot of Kentucky's overall health," said Lane. "The State Heath Index will serve as a tangible scorecard of the most pressing health issues, which will enable us to work with local and state officials and health care providers to design programs that will improve health across our state."

The State Health Index is a companion program to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Member Health Index, an initiative announced earlier this year, through which Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield uses the data it collects on its own members to track its progress in helping to improve the quality of health care they receive as well as health outcomes.

"Together, these innovative programs clearly demonstrate Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's commitment to measurably improving the lives of its members and the health of its communities," said Angela F. Braly, president and CEO of WellPoint, Inc., Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's parent company. "Our company has made an unprecedented commitment to improving health on both the member and state levels, and we have set goals that are both ambitious and transparent. We look forward to using initiatives such as the Member and State Health Indices to drive innovation in the industry and help improve health care across the United States."

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which serves its members as the Blue Cross Licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (in 10 New York City metropolitan counties and in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is available at http://www.anthem.com

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation promotes Anthem's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves.

The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to reduce the number of uninsured as well as organizations and nonprofit charities that promote the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation.

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is an affiliate of the WellPoint Foundation. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation please visit http://www.wellpointfoundation.org


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky
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