Business leaders have a responsibility to improve communities and save lives

Daniel J. Loepp

| 3 min read

Daniel J. Loepp is President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Mr. Loepp has directed sweeping initiatives and innovations that have led to a historic transformation of BCBSM and health care in Michigan. He played a major role in modernizing the state’s health care delivery system in a process that led to enactment of new laws that transformed BCBSM to become a nonprofit mutual insurance company in January 2014. Mr. Loepp has led BCBSM initiatives to improve health care quality and slow cost increases, saving nearly $1.5 billion through several programs that have garnered national attention and served as models implemented across the country. Under his leadership, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is helping to revitalize and strengthen Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing. In 2011 and 2012, Blue Cross moved 3,000 BCBSM employees into downtown Detroit and the company is one of the largest employers in the city’s Central Business District. In Lansing, BCBSM subsidiary AF Group transformed a long abandoned power plant into a national headquarters. Mr. Loepp has stood by a commitment that BCBSM should be a driving force for good in Michigan’s core cities. It is reflected in BCBSM’s workforce diversity and inclusion efforts, supplier partnerships and community initiatives. In his tenure, BCBSM has been named Corporation of the Year in Finance and Insurance Services nine times by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. The company has also been named one of America’s Top Organizations for Multi-Cultural Business Opportunities by and ranked five consecutive years as one of the top 10 Regional Companies for diversity by DiversityInc magazine, including being ranked No. 1 for consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. Mr. Loepp was honored as a 2016 recipient of the Edward N. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award. He was selected as Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News in 2013. Mr. Loepp joined Blue Cross in 2000. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, he served as board chair of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), an organization that includes all 36 Blue Cross plans and provides health coverage to more than 106 million Americans.

Partnerships to combat opioid epidemic can serve as a model for future collaboration Consider these statistics: The number of people dying from opioid-related overdoses in Michigan has tripled in the past five years. Our state ranks 10th in the nation for the rate at which we prescribe opioid pain relievers. Statewide, 11 million prescriptions were written in 2016 – enough for every Michigan resident to have his or her own bottle of medication – or 80 tablets per person. In 2016, nearly 1,800 Michigan residents died from opioid-related overdose deaths. That’s higher than the number of people who died in traffic accidents. We know the opioid epidemic is harming families and ravaging communities in Michigan and across the nation. As a business leader and CEO of Michigan’s largest health plan, I also know the epidemic is compromising the health of many Michiganders and costing their employers – and it is extremely burdensome on our health care system. But we, as community members and business leaders, do not have to be bystanders to this crisis. There’s much that we can do – and must do – to improve the health of our communities and save lives. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, that work is underway, and we plan to do more. As a company with a strong social mission, we are committed to addressing the growing opioid epidemic, including through enhanced awareness and partnerships with physicians, public health advocates and officials. Some of our efforts include the creation of a task force to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to tackle the issue. Our teams have also developed an Opioids Provider Toolkit to provide best practices and resources, as well as data and resources on opioid use and tips to safely manage pain. And we’ve launched a new website available to everyone looking for answers. We are supporting our communities by funding initiatives to fight opioid abuse. For example, we’re working with partners to provide one-time grants to nine community coalitions across the state. Along with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, we joined the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Superior Health Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to award more than $500,000 in grants. And Blue Cross is working directly with doctors to coordinate care to reduce opioid abuse and overdose from prescriptions for controlled substances. That’s on top of an important policy change we initiated to more strongly regulate opioid prescriptions, including limiting supplies except for those who have a cancer diagnosis or are terminally ill. We are proud of these steps, which are delivering life-saving results. After six months of working with doctors, we’ve seen a nearly 51 percent reduction in Blue Cross members using one dangerous combination of drugs that includes an opioid. And in three years, we’ve seen a 76 percent decrease in the number of members receiving the dangerous “Triple Threat,” a drug combination that includes opioids. Overall, through the many combined efforts, Blue Cross has seen a 24 percent reduction in the number of opioid pills dispensed. Now, we encourage others to join us, starting with awareness campaigns. As business and community leaders, we know we can accomplish great things by working together -- as we’ve seen from our joint efforts to support the resurgence of Detroit, as well as the joint economic development projects across our state. Our need to partner again – this time to combat the opioid crisis -- is literally a matter of life and death. Daniel J. Loepp is President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which serves nearly 5.4 million members in all 50 states.Recommended blogs:
Photo credit: Marco Verch

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