NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Tennessee launches new programs to expand health care coverage for its citizens, the state’s health care community will come together on April 20 to discuss ways to further increase the number of insured persons, as well as provide free or reduced-cost care to those still without coverage.

In observance of Cover the Uninsured Week, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust will sponsor the third annual statewide Best Practices Forum on Uninsured Health Care, designed to address potential ways to care for the uninsured within Tennessee’s volunteer health care clinic arena.

Held at Nashville’s Adventure Science Center, the daylong forum is expected to attract more than 100 attendees from the health care, government, business, religious and academic sectors. The conference will have administrative and clinical tracks, which will address topics like health literacy, evidence-based medicine, partnerships and grant writing.

“No matter who you are—business owner, employee, doctor, legislator, or even insurer—the uninsured are a matter of daily concern for all Tennesseans,” said Ron Harr, senior vice president of government programs at BlueCross. “We’re all impacted by uncompensated care and its effect on health care costs, quality of life and emergency room access.”

According to Families USA, families paid an average of $900 more in insurance costs during 2005 as a result of uncompensated care for the uninsured.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are an estimated 836,000 uninsured Tennesseans. Currently, more than a dozen volunteer-based clinics across the state work to provide care to these under- and uninsured individuals.

“The State of Tennessee is undertaking some innovative efforts to expand health care coverage to its citizens and these clinics are another instrument in achieving that goal,” Harr noted. “As it’s been proven time and again, it takes the collaborative and dedicated efforts of all parties to find solutions for the uninsured. And it’s our hope that this forum aids in that pursuit.”

Featured speakers and panelists for the Best Practices Forum on Uninsured Health Care include Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, Tennessee Department of Health; Janet Ohene-Frempong, president of J.O. Frempong & Associates; Ann Scales, senior manager industry relations Shared Health; and Doug Fluegel, United Way of Greater Nashville.

The forum is free to anyone who volunteers in health care for Tennessee’s uninsured. For more information or to register, visit www.bcbst.com or 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.