Chattanooga, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Erlanger Health System have a signed a five-year strategic network partnership agreement that establishes a new level of collaboration between the two organizations. The partnership, which is centered around patient care, goes into effect July 1, 2013.

This strategic agreement between the two leading organizations provides significant access to high quality health care and continued participation across all BlueCross provider networks for both current and future products. Erlanger currently participates in BlueCross networks P, S and V, BlueCare, TennCare Select and BlueAdvantage. As part of this partnership, Erlanger will become the exclusive hospital system in the new BlueCross Network E, which will serve those seeking coverage via the health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to the network arrangement, this exclusive partnership serves as a framework for the joint development of patient care innovations, with the goal of delivering outstanding medical value in the Chattanooga marketplace.

“We believe this is a partnership of strengths that provides real stability and value for Chattanooga and beyond,” said Bill Gracey, president and CEO for BlueCross. “Erlanger already has an excellent reputation for delivering quality care at competitive rates. Through this agreement, we will work together to further advance care quality and patient outcomes in meaningful ways. Our partnership makes us both more competitive in the market and importantly that will also translate to cost savings for the people we serve.”

Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE, president and CEO of Erlanger, said, “BlueCross has demonstrated a strong commitment to establishing collaborative care models with leading health care systems like ours. Erlanger has always been committed to achieving the best outcomes for our patients and enhancing their health care experience, and this new partnership ensures we’re working together in creative new ways to accomplish our goals. Our partnership is aligned with my vision as Erlanger’s new CEO – strengthening Erlanger’s role in the marketplace, particularly as it pertains to improving the value of health care.”

According to Gracey and Spiegel, the new partnership will enable both organizations to ensure shared progress on quality and cost that will ultimately benefit residents throughout the region.

About Erlanger Health System

The Erlanger Health System, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has five campuses and two community health centers, including the region’s only children’s hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center, providing the highest level of trauma care for both adults and children. Erlanger has five Emergency Centers and four LIFE FORCE air ambulances, based in Tennessee and Georgia. Affiliated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga, Erlanger is also the region’s only academic teaching center, and treats more than a quarter million patients every year. The non-profit health system is rated number one in the region by U.S. News and World Report, and recognized nationally for high-performance in seven specialties, including neurology and neurosurgery and orthopedics.

Children’s Hospital at Erlanger has a full range of pediatric subspecialists, as well as the region’s only pediatric ER, ICU, and Level III neo-natal intensive care unit, providing the region’s highest level of care for premature and sick infants.

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.