Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts said its CEO John Storrs “dumbstruck” by an email from one of its former executives suggesting that some customers weren’t dying and might be receiving treatment.
Storrs, who joined Blue Cross in February as its CEO, issued a statement Wednesday that said he had no idea why the email was sent, and that the CEO had not been involved in the issue and could not understand why a person would ask for information.
Sturrs told reporters that he did not believe that any of his employees had been involved with the email, and said he could not discuss it.
He also said he did know that a former Blue Cross CEO had said he “did not think that any employees were aware of what was going on,” and that he “wouldn’t have done it” if he did.
He also said that he had not spoken with anyone from the company since the email.
Blue Cross is not an insurance company and does not have to file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We’re always mindful of what is best for the patients we serve, and we’ve learned to deal with our customers differently,” Storris said.
“It’s not something we’re going to take lightly.”
He also issued a follow-up statement to Boston Magazine that said Blue Cross has not found a cure for its customers’ medical conditions, and is focused on helping people who are terminally ill and do not want to take their own lives.
The Globe And Magazine first reported the email and said the email came from Storres.
Storries told The Globe and Magazine that he and his company have been working to figure out what happened, and he is “dismayed” that the email had surfaced.
Blue Cross was not immediately available for comment.
Stuart Smith, a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Public Health who has studied the issue of telehealth versus telemedics, said the idea that a CEO might be dumbstruck by an employee who makes such an allegation is a troubling one.
“It’s an indication that it’s a culture problem, but also a concern about how this could affect the people who will be doing the work,” Smith said.
He said it’s hard to say for sure whether Storros’ email is an isolated incident or if the company is dealing with a larger problem.
Starrrs’ email has prompted criticism from some in the healthcare industry, which have questioned whether he has become too “sophisticated” about telehealth.
Stourrs, 49, is an orthopedic surgeon who spent more than two decades at Blue Cross, leading its health insurance business from 2003 until last year.
He joined Blue the day he became CEO and is one of three Blue Cross executives to lead the health insurance company since Storks’ departure.
In his email, Storbs wrote that he was “not in the business of being a doctor or a doctor of medicine,” but said that “I have never been in the medical field” and that if he were, he would have known “a lot more about what is going on” than he does now.
In a statement to the Globe and Mag, Storrrs said that his email did not come from him, and also said Blue was not involved in this issue.
Storrris said he and Blue had not had any contact with the company’s CEO.
The Boston Globe reported that Storrds was fired from Blue Cross and had been suspended from his job with the insurer.
In his statement, Storkers said he has not been notified by Blue Cross that Storrts’ email was discovered, and was unaware of the email’s existence.
“The email was simply sent to me,” he said.