The Maryland Health Care Foundation, which has been funding projects to improve access to care for low-income residents, is expected close Oct. 1 because the proposed for-profit conversion of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has been dropped.
The foundation, based in Columbia, Md., has depended on revenue from two small for-profit conversions of healthcare entities in the state, but its primary source of revenue was going to be money from the conversion of Owings Mills, Md.-based CareFirst, according to Marilyn Maultsby, executive director of the foundation.
The conversion, coupled with CareFirst's anticipated sale to Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based WellPoint Health Networks, would have netted the foundation as much as $1 billion. But state authorities blocked that sale in March, and the conversion was subsequently called off.
Maultsby says the state Legislature is expected to end the foundation when it reconvenes in January. An alternative to closing, she says, would be using "a different funding stream," but a tight state budget makes this solution difficult.
Since it began in 1997, the foundation has funded a variety of projects, including seven new rural health programs and a prescription-drug subsidy program for low-income residents, she says.