NC insurance commissioner says Blue Cross CEO should resign
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s top insurance regulator on Wednesday called on the chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to resign after his impaired-driving arrest in June, citing a “lack of leadership and governance” by the CEO and the board.
Commissioner Mike Causey said president and CEO Dr. Patrick Conway has shown a lack of leadership and professionalism related to his arrest from a crash on Interstate 85 in Randolph County. Causey also accused the Blue Cross board of exercising poor judgment in trying to conceal what happened. Causey said he didn’t learn about it until last week after a news report.
“It has become apparent to me that there’s been a significant breakdown in the corporate governance at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina,” Causey said at a news conference in Gastonia. “It pains me greatly because this tragic incident has put a big dent in the reputation of a good company. But there is no path forward for this office to have a trusting, confident and reliable working relationship” with Conway, he added.
News outlets reported Conway, 45, was charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse following the June 22 crash. No one was injured, but Conway’s two daughters were in the car. His next court hearing is next month.
Blue Cross didn’t immediately respond to a request Wednesday for comment on Causey’s call for resignation. Late last week, Causey had said Blue Cross should name an interim CEO while Conway’s court case continued.
Board Chairman Frank Holding Jr. wrote this week to Causey that Conway had completed a 30-day inpatient substance abuse treatment program.
“Based on detailed information shared by the facility, concerning Dr. Conway’s assessment and treatment, the board was satisfied that Dr. Conway could continue to provide strong leadership to Blue Cross NC,” Holding wrote. But Causey said he doesn’t believe the board had all the information about Conway’s arrest when they made that decision.
An investigative report of the accident obtained by WRAL-TV and written by the Archdale police investigating officer said Conway had bloodshot eyes and a strong odor of alcohol at the scene and became “absolutely belligerent” at the police department.
“I deeply regret this incident and the events that day as it is not consistent with the conduct that I strive to embody in my personal and professional life,” Conway said in a statement. “I am taking this very seriously and am committed to dealing with the situation appropriately.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s dominant health insurer, also administers the health insurance plan for hundreds of thousands of state employees, teachers, retirees and their families. The company announced Tuesday that it would put on “temporary hold” its previously announced combination with Cambia Health Solutions. The two not-for-profit companies insure more than 6 million people combined in North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Washington.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wrote to Cambia’s board Tuesday admonishing them for failing to tell him about Conway’s arrest until last week.
“Your behavior in this matter must, and will, be taken into account as my office considers (Cambia’s) request for a merger” with Blue Cross, he wrote.