June 9, 2000

Governor Gray Davis Announces Pioneering Cross-Border Health Plan

"Access Baja": First California-Based HMO to Provide Health Care Coverage in Mexico

Sacramento — Speaking at the opening of the Border Governors Conference, Governor Gray Davis announced that California has approved a new health plan —Blue Shield's Access Baja HMO— that for the first time will allow individuals with health benefits provided by a U.S. employer to obtain medical services in Tijuana, Mexico.

"Every day, 40,000 to 50,000 people legally cross the border to work in California." Governor Davis said. "Now, for the first time ever, those workers will have access to health care services closer to home."

As host of the 18th annual conference, Governor Davis welcomed the nine other border-state governors, their spouses or their representatives to California, "con brazos y corazón abiertos — with open arms and an open heart."

Noting that this year's conference marked the first time the meeting has been held in the California capital, Governor Davis said "la frontera no es barrera to our future— the border is not a barrier to our future. It is a symbol of a thriving community of shared values and genuine cooperation.

"Somos mas que vecinos — somos norteamericanos todos. We are more than neighbors. We are North Americans. Bound by common challenges, common opportunities and an uncommon commitment to a brighter future," the governor said.

Access Baja

Setting a standard for others to follow, Blue Shield of California will partner with Mexican insurance company, General de Seguros and three prominent Tijuana hospitals —Centro Medico Excel, Hospital Notre Dame and Hospital Nova, to market the Access Baja HMO Plan to California employers prefer to receive their health care services in Mexico. California's Department of Corporations recently approved Blue Shield's plan to operate Access Baja HMO which will be launched this August.

Key provisions of the Access Baja HMO Plan include:

o All physicians are licensed to practice in Mexico, as well as registered to practice in the State of Baja California;

o All specialists are board certified in their areas of specialization;

o All hospitals have received certification from the Mexican National Commission on Hospital Certification and are among the first hospitals to voluntarily undertake the certification process;

o Quality coverage at reasonable costs with low co-payment ($2 or $4) for most health care services;

o Health and wellness programs for members and their families.

Governor Davis joined the other governors in an opening ceremony on the West Steps of the Capitol. As chairman and host of the two-day Border Governors Conference, Governor Davis will lead discussions among the governors of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as the governors from Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas of the United Mexican States.

Over the course of the next two days, the governors will discuss shared challenges and responsibilities relating to economic development, education, the environment and border crossing, as well as ways to strengthen relations between states in the border region.

"We are 10 Governors of 10 states sharing 2,000 border miles. Today, we —the Border Governors of the United States and Mexico— have come together to celebrate and to strengthen the ties that bind us. To chart a course for a future that fulfills the true promise of this, the age of possibility," Governor Davis concluded.

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