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Blue Shield of California Gives $500,000 to Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund

Nonprofit health plan’s contribution to support urgently needed drive-through testing

OAKLAND (March 20, 2020) – Blue Shield of California continues its philanthropic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing a $500,000 contribution to the Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund. Of those funds, $300,000 is earmarked to set up drive-through testing for the virus with the help of medical experts from Brown & Toland Physicians.

“It’s clear that COVID-19 requires a massive response,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. “We continue to ramp up our efforts to help stem the spread of this virus, and our support for Mayor Libby Schaaf’s call to action is a great way for us to make an immediate impact on our hometown of Oakland.”

oakland HQ libby paul sq
Paul Markovich and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at Blue Shield of California's headquarters opening event in November

Mayor Schaaf aims to raise $10 million for the Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund to address critical needs in the city. The fund has received commitments from Blue Shield, other Bay Area companies and foundations for more than half of that total. Some of this funding will go to meals programs to help the city’s elderly, less fortunate and recently unemployed. The fund will also help keep Oaklanders housed and first responders safe with essential medical equipment such as facemasks and gloves.

“Blue Shield of California is dedicated to helping Oaklanders fight this virus and stay healthy,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “We appreciate their support to help us with vital testing and their leadership on other community initiatives.”

Brown & Toland Physicians (BTP) will launch the first COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing Site in Oakland today, which will primarily support the City of Oakland’s first responders and Brown & Toland physicians, serving on the front lines in the community. BTP has another site launching in San Francisco this weekend and is securing additional sites in both cities to continue to expand patient services in the Bay Area.

“The needs for adequate testing are immediate,” said Kelly Robison, CEO of Brown & Toland Physicians. “In preparation for the potential long-term effects of this pandemic, we need to focus not only on protective measures to slow the spread and test symptomatic patients, we also need to ensure the safety and well-being of our first responders, physicians and other healthcare providers who are bravely taking care of the rest of us.”

Earlier this week Blue Shield of California announced it will contribute $100,000 to help Bay Area nonprofit, MedShare, distribute personal protective equipment to community health clinics throughout California.

In addition, Blue Shield has:

  • Waived prior approval and testing costs associated with COVID-19.
  • Announced it was monitoring prescription drug supplies and said members can request early refills of their prescriptions.
  • Waived costs for use of Teladoc and telehealth: online, telephone and smartphone tools used for consulting with doctors and other providers without a trip to an office or hospital.
  • Opened regular communications channels with federal, state and local officials, agencies and regulators to coordinate an effective response. 
  • Announced a new digital tool for its network hospitals at no additional cost to help them triage the influx of patients seeking advice on coronavirus or other medical care. (Blue Shield has 347 hospitals in its preferred-provider network.)

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a health care system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. We are a tax paying, not for profit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare health care service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

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