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Blue Cross CEO charged with DWI, child abuse urged to step aside by state regulator

Go here to read the latest developments in this story as of Sept. 26, 2019.

The state insurance commissioner has asked that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina replace its president and CEO with an interim leader until all his alcohol-related driving charges are resolved.

News surfaced last week that Patrick Conway, 45 and head of the state’s largest insurer, was arrested in June on charges of driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse after an accident on Interstate 85 with his two daughters in the car. A police affidavit described him having bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and being unsteady on his feet.

In a Friday letter to BCBS board Chairman Frank Holding Jr., Commissioner Mike Causey called the charges “alarming.”

“What is even more alarming is the appearance that the board and executive team worked to hide the arrest from the public’s attention,” Causey wrote, “then was almost dismissive of the troubling charges when reported in the news media.”

Patrick Conway BCBS.jpg
Patrick Conway, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

“One would expect the board and executive team ... to be much more accountable, responsible and transparent to their policyholders and to the public at large,” Causey wrote. “With health insurance being a top issue in our nation and our state, North Carolina consumers need to have utmost confidence in their leaders at this critical time.”

In response Monday, Holding wrote to Causey stressing the board has “sought accountability” from Conway, creating a committee to handle the matter.

Conway and the committee agreed he should undergo a professional substance abuse assessment and attend a 30-day inpatient treatment program. During that time, the company’s chief operating officer took on temporary authority.

“Based on detailed information shared by the facility based on Dr. Conway’s assessment and treatment, the board was satisfied Dr. Conway could continue to provide strong leadership to BlueCross NC,” Holding’s letter said.

“We believe the board has taken appropriate steps to handle this sensitive matter in a matter consistent with the privacy and legal issues at stake,” the letter said.

Refused breathalyzer test

No one was injured in the June crash. Conway refused a breathalyzer test at the scene and his driver’s license was revoked for 30 days. A court date is scheduled in October.

Conway came to the Durham-based health insurer in 2017, previously serving as deputy administrator for innovation and quality at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

The N.C. Department of Insurance regulates the state’s insurance industry, licenses agents and handles complaints. Causey has been commissioner since 2017.

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