2012 Leadership in Public Health Practice Award

Maura Bluestone, SM '74

Some time after graduating from HSPH, a confluence of events brought Maura Bluestone to the Bronx, then crippled by a high crime rate, poverty and urban decay, and it was there that she chose to begin a groundbreaking contribution to the development and growth of managed care and community health in the country.

Ms. Bluestone saw a solution to the access, quality and cost problems that plagued the Medicaid program of the early 80s in the untested concept of marrying managed care to government-sponsored health programs. With a group of community health centers and foundation and state funding, her model project opened in 1987 as The Bronx Health Plan (TBHP), a not-for-profit Medicaid-managed care organization dedicated to improving individual and community health, and the first health plan licensed in NY to serve government-sponsored populations. In 1991 Governor Cuomo signed legislation making Medicaid-managed care a permanent program. The acquisition of Genesis Healthplan expanded geographic coverage to the NYC metropolitan area, and, in 2002, TBHP changed its name to Affinity Health Plan. Today, Affinity has over a quarter of a million members in several government-subsidized programs, served by 3,600 primary care providers in a variety of practice sites, 16,000 physician specialists, 89 hospitals as well as dental, vision, behavioral health, chiropractic and pharmacy vendors. Affinity consistently rates among the highest performing health plans in NY.

Under Ms. Bluestone’s leadership, Affinity actively engages in the communities it serves, responding to the needs of an ethnically and linguistically diverse population. Over the years, Affinity has provided social, educational and economic opportunities with programs that provide scholarships, tutoring and mentoring, donation and blood drives, and grants to nonprofits to test innovative approaches to health care. Affinity also developed innovative coverage programs for low-income uninsured who did not qualify for Medicaid, and for uninsured secondary victims of the 9-11 terrorist attack who lived or worked in lower Manhattan and suffered economic loss.

Ms. Bluestone is currently chair of the Coalition of NY State Public Health Plans, and on the board of the Association of Community Affiliated Plans. Until recently, she also served as co-chair of the Medicaid Committee of America’s Health Insurance Plans. Ms. Bluestone credits the values instilled by her parents – to take responsibility for improving the world around you – for her success and commitment to service.