BCBS of North Carolina merger plans halted as video, details of CEO's DWI incident emerge

Cambia Health Solutions and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina put their proposed combination on hold after more information surfaced about the arrest of BCBSNC's CEO, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cambia, which operates Regence-branded BCBS plans in Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Washington, announced plans to merge with BCBSNC in March. Under the deal, BCBSNC CEO Patrick Conway, MD, would become CEO of the combined entity.

However, recent revelations about an allegedly alcohol-related car crash involving Dr. Conway and his two daughters have halted affiliation plans. In June, Dr. Conway was charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse after the car crash.

New video from the incident shows Dr. Conway's car swerving across highway lines before crashing into a commercial vehicle. Police reports cite Dr. Conway as "absolutely belligerent," yelling and cursing at officers, as well as threatening them, according to WSJ.

While a BCBSNC spokesperson told WSJ that Cambia was informed about Dr. Conway's arrest in June, a Cambia spokesperson said its board received "minimal detail" at that time. The spokesperson added that "the emerging details that began coming out last week were deeply troubling and were not known," according to WSJ.

In a statement to the publication, Dr. Conway's lawyer said the executive and former CMS administrator is "deeply ashamed and embarrassed" about the arrest and "knows his conduct was unacceptable and not consistent with who he is as a person." Dr. Conway immediately disclosed his arrest to BCBSNC's board and completed 30 days of inpatient substance use treatment afterward, according to the report.

Despite calls from state officials for the health insurer to name an interim CEO while Dr. Conway's criminal charges are resolved, BCBSNC's board has stood by him. The insurer recently told The Charlotte Observer: "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."

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