A Healthy Partnership

For years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has worked side-by-side with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana to form beneficial initiatives in a multitude of social and economic arenas.
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In his three-plus decades working for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA), Anselmo Rodriguez has worn several different hats for the trusted health care insurer. Starting in the company’s I.T. department, transitioning through finance and supply chain management, his role evolved into assignments dealing with community relations. Today, he is the chairman of the Blue Cross Hispanic-American Employee Resource Group, which hosts educational programming and discussions that could benefit a person’s long-term career goals.

No matter the job, no matter the title, Rodriguez’s overarching goal has remained the same – as it has for every employee. “Our mission is to improve the health and life of all Louisianans,” Rodriguez said. “By definition, that includes the Hispanic community in Louisiana.”

To make good on that mission, BCBSLA has worked with various civic entities – like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) – to formulate diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives that directly benefit historically marginalized groups of people. That concerted effort began more than a decade ago, Rodriguez said, when the company turned to the HCCL to assist in identifying Hispanic-owned businesses that could fulfill the demanding supply needs of the health care provider’s massive operation — thus leveling an economic playing field that had been uneven for generations.

“Since then, the relationship (between Blue Cross and the HCCL) has kept growing and growing as it’s continued to be mutually beneficial to both,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve done a lot of great things, partnering together to address a cross-section of interests.” 

Mayra Pineda, president and CEO of The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, says that the organization greatly values its partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “Mr. Rodriguez is a valued member of HCCL’s board of directors and is our treasurer,” Pineda says. “His leadership and presence in our programs and events have greatly engaged the Hispanic community and supported the growth and development of various industries. The commitment from Blue Cross is a key factor in the success of HCCL and (its foundation). We truly appreciate their support and collaboration.”

In 2020, as the COVID-19 virus severely altered multiple aspects of every Louisiana resident’s way of life, Blue Cross worked with the HCCL to produce vital content (print, video, social media) specifically in Spanish so that all regional Hispanics of every generation could absorb health care information and comprehend the resources available to them. That targeted messaging initiative continued throughout 2021 as Spanish speakers could view, listen and read about vaccine options and accessibility, whether they had reliable access to the Internet or not.

Content included information about no-cost ride services that could transport Hispanic patients to their vaccine appointment, along with answers to FAQs about topics like immigration status, the heightened risk of working in “frontline” jobs, and the overall safety of the vaccine.   

“During a situation as serious as the pandemic, information – and clear, reliable information – is key for everybody’s safety and well-being, individually, as a household and as a community,” Rodriguez said. “In our Hispanic community, and specifically our monolingual Spanish-speakers, a lot of information they were receiving was second-hand or misinformed. Mixed messages don’t improve the life of every Louisianan. That’s what motivated this effort to provide health care messaging in the Spanish language.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana continues to champion efforts to diversify its supply chain, as the insurer has partnered with regional trade conferences in order to train Hispanic-owned businesses with the tools (procedures, certification needs, other business acumen) needed to engage in contract talks with BCBSLA, or other companies on that same scale.

Beyond nurturing economic development opportunities with Hispanic suppliers, Blue Cross has formulated targeted and specific plans to identify and recruit talented Hispanic employees to work for the insurer. Along those same lines, the company donates funds and resources to several foundations and projects that promote workforce development in under-represented communities. 

Once hired, Hispanic workers at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana can partake in its Employee Resource Group seminars on leadership development. This helps forge a path for Blue Cross employees to grow and advance within the company. 

“As a company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has always strived to meet the demands of the people we serve,” Rodriguez said. “The Hispanic community is an important part of a bigger community that we try and serve, so we want to continue those focused efforts to serve the Hispanic population in health care and economic development. We remain devoted to increasing services and support to better the Hispanic community’s health care outcomes.”