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BlueCross Foundation Expands COVID-19 Support in Chattanooga

$50,000 grant will support testing and treatment for the uninsured in Hamilton County


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation is giving $50,000 to Hamilton County to support testing and treatment of COVID-19, or other health-related services for the uninsured.

“Once again, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has shown how much they care about this community,” said Jim Coppinger, Hamilton County mayor. “Throughout the years, BlueCross has been our partner in a number of important community undertakings. This speaks to the investment BlueCross has in the health of all our residents, not just their customers.”

The grant supports the expansion of free COVID-19 testing for local residents who do not have health insurance. Residents do not need a physician referral to receive testing, but must go through the Hamilton County Health Department’s screening process. Call their Coronavirus Information Hotline at (423) 209-8393 for more information.

“Our BlueCross mission to serve extends beyond our members,” said Roy Vaughn, executive director of the BlueCross Foundation. “And our foundation is helping support some of our community’s most vulnerable residents during this critical time.”

The funds will be managed through the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

“We are most appreciative of this donation from the BlueCross Foundation,” added Becky Barnes, Hamilton County Health Department administrator. “We help many clients who need services but do not have ready means of access. This donation will go far in providing services to those with uncompensated health care costs.”

This move follows the foundation’s commitment of $3.25 million to food banks statewide, $500,000 of which was given to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.

The foundation effort also builds on a number of steps by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to offer enhanced member support in recent weeks:

  • Waiving all member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments, including hospitalizations, from in-network providers through May 31, 2020
  • Waiving member costs for any medically appropriate FDA-aligned COVID-19 test
  • Allowing early prescription refills and 90-day prescriptions to avoid increased risk of exposure
  • Expanding access to telehealth services by making PhysicianNow® visits available at no cost and by covering virtual visits with network providers
  • Sharing key public health information, such as promoting social distancing and warning of potential scam activity

BlueCross has also made donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to some Tennessee health systems.

BlueCross has been monitoring developments of COVID-19 and preparing to support its customers and communities since the disease entered the United States in January. The company is following its established pandemic plan with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with local and state health departments, and adapting its approach as the situation evolves.

“Our clinical teams remain in close communication with public health officials so we can support our communities and any members affected by COVID-19,” said Dr. Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer. “And we know our members are concerned, so we’re focused on acting and sharing information quickly to help bring them peace of mind.”

BlueCross continues to maintain normal hours of operation and service levels for its members and network providers as a result of shifting virtually all of its 6,700 employees across the state to work from home last month.

For ongoing updates about the BlueCross response to COVID-19, visit


About BlueCross®

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.5 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary of bringing peace of mind to its members and local communities. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s news center at


About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation provides funding for the BlueCross Healthy Place program, which creates active, healthy spaces across Tennessee.

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