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Blue Cross of California Invests $10.6 Million in Community Clinics Through the Investment in a Healthy California Program

Transaction brings total investment in low-income urban and rural

underserved communities to more than $200 million.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross of California (Blue Cross) announced today that a recent $10.6 million investment in community clinics in northern Kern County brings its total investment in rural underserved and low-income urban communities to more than $202 million through its Investment in a Healthy California Program (IHCP).

Blue Cross, through the IHCP, has invested in a diversified mix of healthcare providers, including hospitals, community clinics, long-term care facilities, mental health centers and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. Blue Cross has invested in three of California's Critical Access Hospitals, five hospitals that have been designated as Disproportionate Share Hospitals and has launched a program designed to help small healthcare facilities - such as community clinics - access the benefits of tax-exempt bond financing tools normally leveraged by larger organizations.

Blue Cross' investments in these facilities and the communities they support have allowed providers to expand access or improve services through additions, renovations or retrofitting. Additionally, these investments provide the opportunity to reduce operating costs so small healthcare facilities can improve their overall financial stability by refinancing old, expensive debt.

"This investment not only marks our commitment to the merger undertakings, but more importantly our quest to ensure all Californians have access to world-class healthcare," said Brian A. Sassi, president of Blue Cross. "The innovative Investment in a Healthy California Program is a unique partnership with our regulators and the IHCP advisory board to strengthen the health delivery system in our state."

Blue Cross' recent investment was $10.6 million in National Health Services, Inc. (NHSI), a California nonprofit public benefit corporation headquartered in Shafter, Calif. Formerly known as the Buttonwillow Health Center, Inc., NHSI provides a full range of primary and preventive care and supportive services to underserved populations, including migrant and seasonal farm workers through its operation of eleven facilities in Kern County. The proceeds of the bond issue will allow for construction of a new administration center in Shafter, additional medical and dental clinics in Rosedale and Ridgecrest and refinancing existing debt.

"Helping providers in smaller communities access capital is good for our healthcare system," said Dr. Rosalio (Leo) Lopez, chairman of the IHCP advisory committee. "Through this program we have provided over $200 million to communities to expand the vital services that meet the health needs of the people they serve. This most recent $10 million investment helps build more healthcare facilities to serve a very rural area of California."

"Community clinics are an essential piece of the healthcare delivery system that are dedicated to serving low-income communities," said Kathy Lim Ko, IHCP advisory committee member and immediate past chairwoman. "The benefits provided by the IHCP allow these facilities to expand health services to the most at-risk populations in our state."

As part of the 2004 WellPoint/Anthem merger, Blue Cross of California and BC Life & Health allocated $200 million of their investment portfolios to create the IHCP. This innovative program was created to provide investment capital to healthcare facilities serving low-income urban and rural underserved California communities. Blue Cross collaborated with state regulators and the IHCP advisory committee, which is comprised of leading healthcare professionals, to ensure the program succeeded in meeting the objectives outlined by the merger agreement. The IHCP is one of the largest investment programs of its kind in the country - specifically designed to address the healthcare needs of underserved populations. The program has a 20 year commitment.

About Blue Cross of California:

Blue Cross of California is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), whose mission is to improve the lives of the people it serves and the health of its communities. It is the largest publicly traded commercial health benefits company in terms of membership in the United States, and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and 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 (as Blue Cross Blue Shield in 10 New York City metropolitan counties and as Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about Blue Cross of California is available at

SOURCE Blue Cross of California
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