Crime

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s NC CEO charged with DWI and child abuse after car wreck

Patrick Conway, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, faces charges of driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse after an alleged alcohol-related accident with two daughters in the car.

Conway, 45 and the high-profile leader of the state’s largest insurer, was arrested in June after a minor crash on Interstate 85 in Randolph County, court records said. No one was injured.

An Archdale police officer wrote in his affidavit that Conway failed to stay in his lane and struck a commercial vehicle. When the officer contacted Conway, he observed the odor of alcohol; red, bloodshot eyes; slurred speech and unsteadiness on his feet, the affidavit said.

Conway refused a breathalyzer test and had his driver’s license revoked for 30 days, court records said.

Two minor children, confirmed to be his daughters, were subjected to “substantial risk of physical injury ... by operating a motor vehicle while impaired,” his arrest warrant said.

Additional charges include reckless driving. A court date is scheduled in Asheboro for Oct. 8.

The nonprofit insurer released this statement Thursday:

“Early this summer, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina’s President and CEO Patrick Conway was involved in a traffic accident where he was suspected to be impaired and charged with related offenses. No one was injured in the accident. Patrick immediately made the Board of Trustees aware of the situation.

“Our Board takes this matter very seriously. Upon learning of the incident in June, it immediately established a committee within the Board to review the situation, and engaged outside counsel and experts to aid the process. After careful consideration, the Board of Trustees decided that Patrick’s strong leadership will continue to be an asset and he will remain as President and CEO.

“Patrick has been a great leader of BlueCross NC, fighting to improve the quality of health services, lower costs, and deliver an overall exceptional experience for our customers. As an organization, we remain focused on our mission to serve the customers and communities that we live and work in.”

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.

A practicing hospitalist, Conway finished his pediatrics residency at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital Boston, graduating with high honors from Baylor College of Medicine and summa cum laude from Texas A&M University.

In 2018, shortly after his arrival, BCBS reported its first profit on the Affordable Care Act, bringing in roughly $600 million on new customers covered through the federal law, according to the N&O archives.

The company reported at the time that Conway was paid $235,846 in the last months of 2017, received an $800,804 signing bonus and other benefits for a total package that just topped $1 million.

Conway has emerged as a leading proponent of the push to tie health care reimbursements to quality and innovation.

The New York Times last month noted Conway’s work on the idea, describing North Carolina “on one of the country’s most ambitious efforts to transform how health care is defined and paid for.”

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Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.
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