September 21, 2023

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BCBS Kansas hides Pride Parade participation from policyholders

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Blue Cross/Blue Shield Kansas (BCBSKS), headquartered in Topeka, will not answer questions about the company’s role in the Pride Parade held in June in the capital city.  Sponsoring a pride parade or some other event is a company’s prerogative, but it’s refusal to acknowledge having done so or explaining it’s rationale for doing so to policyholders is curious.

An anonymous source sent The Sentinel the following company instructions for the June 28th event:

“Pride Parade Wednesday June 28 11:00. Starts in Building B parking lobby and goes around the Topeka campus.  

 “In honor of the Stonewall Uprising wear your ‘dress for your day’ Pride apparel and join us in our first ever Pride Parade!”

The Stonewll Uprising refers to riots that resulted from a 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City.

In contacting the company, and having BCBSKS refer to the event as “our recent Pride Parade” we were referred to Director of Corporate Communications Katie McGivern, who after a several days delay in early July, responded with a curious question:

Would you be able to tell me what pride parade you are referring to that BCBSKS participated in?”

We provided the parade instructions our source had given us to show it was the Topeka event. We received no further response from Ms. McGivern.

When no response was received from the communications director, we tried CEO Matt All and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lonnie Walker, Jr. and asked the following questions:

  • What was the extent of the company’s participation?  
  • Were policyholders advised of the company’s participation?
  • How would you respond to policyholder questions about expenditures for the parade in the wake of rising insurance premiums?

We received no response from either official.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield has a reputation as a progressive company. A webpage  advertising its National Health Equity Strategy  includes these initiatives:

  • Collecting data to measure disparities
  • Scaling effective programs
  • Working with providers to improve outcomes and address unconscious bias
  • Leaning into partnerships at the community level
  • Influencing policy decisions at the state and federal levels

Aside from Topeka, state BCBS companies participated in Pride Parades this year in cities such as Chicago, Detriot, Buffalo, and Indianapolis.

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