N.C. Insurance Commissioner says Blue Cross CEO Conway should resign

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Patrick Conway, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO, should resign, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said at a press conference in Gastonia Wednesday. He criticized the insurer’s board for failing to protect its policyholders and said that Conway had misled his own board.

“I call on the board of directors to fulfill their duty and put this matter behind them by finding a new CEO,” Causey said.


Patrick ConwayBlue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Conway was involved in a crash with a truck on Interstate 85 on June 22 and faces charges of driving while impaired and two charges of misdemeanor child abuse because his two daughters, both minors, were with him in the car at the time. He refused a breathalyzer test at the scene of the accident. Business North Carolina broke the news of Conway’s arrest last week, prompting phone calls and meetings this week between leaders of the state’s largest health insurance company and Causey.

Blue Cross has stuck by Conway, who immediately notified the company’s board of his arrest in June. The company assembled a committee to review the incident and directed Conway to attend a 30-day in-patient treatment program, while another Blue Cross executive served as interim CEO. That decision wasn’t publicized or shared with Causey.

“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,” Raleigh banker Frank Holding Jr., who is the insurer’s board chairman, wrote in a letter to Causey.

Conway’s incident has prompted Blue Cross Blue Shield to temporarily delay its merger with Oregon’s Cambia Health Solutions, which the N.C. Department of Insurance has been studying since January, Causey said. The combination would lead to a partnership between N.C. Blue Cross, which has about $10 billion in annual revenue, with Cambia, which has more than $6 billion. Conway is slated to head the combined group.

“If you aren’t going to disclose a DWI, how should we expect to trust what we get from the company related to this consolidation,” Causey told Business North Carolina earlier this week. “To me, it was a breach of trust.”

During Monday’s meeting, Causey says he learned that the three board members did not have the whole story about Conway’s actions on June 22. “They did not know all the details that happened. That was clear to me,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal  reported Monday that officers noted when Conway was handcuffed and taken to jail for arrest, he was “absolutely belligerent” and was yelling, crying, swearing at officers and himself and allegedly “had to be shackled to deter him from kicking the holding door.”

Witnesses told the WSJ they saw Conway driving erratically for “more than 4 miles” and a video showed his SUV weaving across multiple lanes before hitting the tractor trailer.

Conway’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Randolph County courthouse in Asheboro.

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