KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On April 28, the Knoxville County Health Department will host a daylong best practices forum on caring for Tennessee’s estimated 828,000 uninsured residents.

The second annual statewide Best Practices Forum on Uninsured Health Care, sponsored by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, is designed to address potential ways to care for the uninsured within Tennessee’s volunteer health care clinic arena.

Currently, more than 12 volunteer-based clinics across the state provide annual care to approximately 73,000 under- and uninsured Tennesseans. Nationwide, community health centers serve 5.4 million uninsured Americans.

“We all face the consequences of and share the responsibility for the uninsured,” said Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross. “As fewer people can afford to or elect not to buy into the system, costs are driven up. That increases premiums. And that makes insurance less affordable for everyone. This forum provides a unique opportunity to collaboratively address the growing needs of the uninsured, as well as those providing them care."

According to Kathy Bingham, community relations manager for BlueCross, the forum provides an excellent opportunity to discuss and explore ways to expand and improve the delivery of quality care at free or reduced costs.

“The inaugural forum made an immediate impact through knowledge exchange, and it set the stage for the development of a network where clinics, providers and other stakeholders can discuss and build solutions,” Bingham said. “In fact, since the 2005 forum, clinics have reported expansion of services like extended operational hours and improved networking such as coordination with local emergency rooms.”

This year, 100 conference attendees from the health care, business, academic and government sectors will hear and discuss issues surrounding the building and sustaining of services for the uninsured. Topics will include prescription drugs, behavioral health, financial stability, health information technology and partnerships.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson will be the keynote speaker. Participants will hear from various speakers and panelists including Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale; Dr. Steve Coulter, president of government business and emerging markets at BlueCross; Dr. Jack W. Lacey, chief medical officer and senior vice president of UT Medical Center; and Melissa Knight, executive director of the InterFaith Health Clinic.

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.