Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a long history of standing up for Detroit through thick and thin. We opened our first office here 75 years ago, built our Lafayette Tower headquarters during the 1970s and more recently, relocated more than 4,000 employees from the suburbs to work in our downtown campus.
So it gives me great pride to announce our support for the grand bargain to help the city emerge from bankruptcy, support retirees and safeguard the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Blue Cross will contribute $2.5 million over 20 years in support of the grand bargain to help minimize cuts to retiree benefits and shield the DIA collection from being sold. All told, BCBSM joined eight other organizations Wednesday in pledging a total of $26.8 million.
That helps the DIA reach 80 percent of its commitment to raise $100 million, after the Detroit Three automakers last month also pledged $26 million and adding to private contributions. The $100 million would also add to $195 million pledged from the state government and $366 million from local and national nonprofit foundations, with the deal dependent on final approval in a vote by pensioners and other creditors that wrapped up July 11.
Why are we doing this?
Simply put, I see it as absolutely critical that we work together to resolve the city’s bankruptcy as quickly as possible while sparing retirees, city services and our richest cultural treasures from bearing the brunt of the cuts. This is about nothing less than ensuring that Detroit retains assets from which to build a bright future.
As someone who was born and raised in Detroit, it’s been incredible to watch the positive changes reshaping our city in recent years. The difference on the ground in the eight years since I became CEO is night and day.
We cannot risk letting Detroit’s bankruptcy unravel the progress we’ve all worked so hard to achieve. The spirit of collaboration on display from everyone — Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature, U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Mayor Mike Duggan, the charitable foundations and private employers — is incredible, and it suggests a way forward through many of our city’s current challenges.
The grand bargain is good business for a city on the rebound. Blue Cross is proud to support it.
Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.