Contacts: Mary Thompson, BlueCross, 423.535.7694

Marvin Stockwell, Church Health Center 901.272.0010 ext. 1414

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From the headlines to the kitchen table and everywhere in-between, the issue of health care coverage for the uninsured is a topic that pervades discussions across the state. It’s a matter of daily concern for more than half a million Tennesseans who lack coverage, as well as those charged with providing front-line care.

In an effort to seek solutions to this prominent and growing problem, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust will sponsor an Uninsured Health Care Best Practices Forum on April 29 at the Church Health Center’s Hope and Healing facility in Memphis, Tenn.

The daylong forum is designed to address potential ways to cover the uninsured within Tennessee’s volunteer health care clinic arena.

Nearly 100 statewide participants from the health care industry, education, government and religious communities are expected to come together to explore the issue from their diverse perspectives.

Participants will share their successes and challenges in providing the uninsured access to quality care.

“The problem of the uninsured is an issue faced by everyone,” said Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross. “Being uninsured carries not only a health and financial risk to the individual without coverage, but that lack of coverage also imposes a burden on everyone accessing or providing services in the health care industry.”

According to the 2004 Census Current Population Survey, the number of non-elderly uninsured Americans totaled 44.7 million during 2003. In Tennessee, 13.2 percent of the population, or 778,000 people, contributed to that count and the number could grow if proposed reforms to the TennCare program are implemented.

Dr. Scott Morris, founder and executive director of the Church Health Center of Memphis, indicated that the issue of the uninsured is not a new problem, but instead a growing concern that will require a dedicated and collaborative effort to solve.

“Although the Church Health Center has faced the issue of the uninsured since its doors opened in 1987, we realize that there is always more that our staff and volunteers can learn in caring for these individuals,” said Dr. Morris. “We’re honored to host this forum, and we look forward to the exchange of best practices among organizations that work face-to-face with the uninsured, as well as other invested parties.”

Discussions at the Uninsured Health Care Forum will focus on statewide trends, options and services, legislation, health insurance, fundraising and partnerships, and volunteer recruitment.

Scheduled program speakers include Dr. Michael Zemel, executive director of Tennessee on the Move; Dr. Neal Beckford, president of the Memphis Medical Society; and John Harkey, Ph.D., health care market researcher.

The forum is free to anyone who volunteers in health care for Tennessee’s uninsured. All others interested in attending may make a donation to the Church Health Center. Attendance is limited. For more information or to register, contact Kathy Bingham, community relations manager for BlueCross, at (901) 544-2078.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.