Special to the
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (Blue Cross) is proud to announce an important initiative to further expand access to primary care physicians and improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for their members and Alabamians.
According to the Alabama Rural Health Association, 54 of Alabama’s 56 rural counties are entirely or partially classified as primary care shortage areas. There are 4.1 primary care physicians per 10,000 population in Alabama’s rural counties compared to 7.9 for urban residents. Thousands of Alabamians lack access to primary care doctors. In addition, these 54 rural counties are also classified as mental healthcare shortage areas.
To help meet this need, Blue Cross is investing in the future of its Primary Care Physician Network by making available $3.2 million in scholarships during a six-year period to the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM). The scholarship opportunity is for medical students agreeing to practice as primary care or behavioral health physicians in an underserved area of Alabama.
“Providing Alabamians access to high quality healthcare continues to be one of our top priorities,” said Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
“Having access to primary healthcare results in lower healthcare spending and improved health outcomes. Partnering with VCOM further validates our long-term commitment to providing Alabamians access to the healthcare they need and deserve,” Vines said.
“We are so excited about the investment that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has made in future physicians to care for rural and medically underserved populations in the state,” said VCOM-Auburn Campus Dean. “The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Scholars Program will produce 42 new physicians to serve in Alabama over the next six years.”
“These future physicians will serve to improve the quality of life and improve health outcomes in so many families across Alabama,” Palmarozzi added.
“Access to high-quality health care is very important,” said VCOM President and Provost Dixie Tooke-Rawlins.
“Partnering with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama will help the college to provide primary care services to more people living in medically underserved areas of the state. I am most grateful to Blue Cross for its foresight of and understanding about the importance of encouraging students to return to practice medicine in medically and underserved areas of the state. To meet our mission, we recruit students from, and train students in, rural and medically underserved areas with the intent that they will return to these areas when they complete their medical residency.
This generous commitment by Blue Cross will greatly enrich VCOM’s scholarship program, decrease student debt and enable many of our students to fulfill the college’s mission of returning our graduates to rural and medically underserved areas in Alabama.”
Blue Cross remains dedicated to working with providers by setting a new standard of support and collaboration with the physician community. This collaboration is beneficial for our members and Alabamians allowing them more convenient access to quality healthcare in their communities.
Blue Cross remains focused on ensuring their members continue to have access to quality, affordable healthcare.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has insured Alabamians for more than 83 years. Blue Cross offers coverage plans to corporations, individuals and the senior market. For more information about Blue Cross, visit AlabamaBlue.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.