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Health insurance CEO resigns after DUI arrest becomes public

BlueCross BlueShield of NC

The CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, whose June arrest for driving under the influence became public last week, resigned Wednesday amid accusations of a coverup.

“Throughout my life, I have been dedicated to one thing: helping people live longer, happier and better lives through access to affordable healthcare,” the CEO, Patrick Conway, said in announcing his resignation. “Today, I am ashamed, embarrassed and sorry about my actions on June 22nd. I am especially sorry for the pain I have caused my family, friends and colleagues.”

Conway is facing several charges, including one count of driving while impaired, one count of reckless driving and two counts of misdemeanor child neglect stemming from a June 22 incident. The arrest was first reported last week by CNN affiliate WRAL.

In video obtained by WRAL, Conway’s vehicle is seen swerving across lanes of traffic on I-85 with his two daughters in the SUV before he sideswipes a semitrailer. He was pulled over and twice failed a field sobriety test, according to the police report obtained by WRAL.

After Conway was taken to jail, he became so “belligerent” that he had to be shackled, the report says, and he even threatened to call North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

WRAL obtained the police arrest report from a source; CNN has reached out several times to the department, but has not independently obtained the report.

Initially, BlueCross BlueShield of NC said a board committee investigated the incident and “determined Conway, who was paid $3.59 million last year, is a good leader who should stay on the job,” WRAL reported.

BlueCross also said Conway completed a 30-day in-patient substance abuse treatment program, according to WRAL.

But on Wednesday, the BlueCross NC board said that they were “unaware” of notes from the arresting officers and the investigative files. The board then asked Conway to resign, the board said in a statement.

“The details that recently emerged related to Dr. Conway’s arrest depict behavior that falls short of our standards,” the board said. “Despite Dr. Conway’s many successes during his tenure at BlueCross NC, we feel that our constituents are best served by naming an interim CEO and beginning a formal search for a permanent replacement.”

BlueCross NC had been set to merge with Cambia Health Solutions, but that merger has now been paused, Cambia officials said in a statement.

“Transparency and integrity of leadership are imperative to Cambia management and our board,” the company said. “We have decided to pause the proceedings toward the Strategic Affiliation with BCNC until all the facts are known and the legal process concludes.”

‘Somebody covered something up’

On Wednesday, NC Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey called on Conway to resign and accused the insurance giant of a cover-up.

“The efforts by the board of directors to hide the arrest of their CEO for drunk driving and child neglect is very disturbing,” he said in a statement.

“This arrest happened on June 22nd. Did anyone know about it in June or July or August?” he told CNN. “I got a call on Thursday morning when it had already broke in the news, so somebody covered something up.”

Causey added, “I cannot move forward with any type of trust of confidence in this CEO.”

Conway’s attorney, Thomas Walker, said Conway is “deeply ashamed and embarrassed” about the pain he caused family and co-workers, according to The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh.

“He knows his conduct was unacceptable and not consistent with who he is as a person. He has never had an incident like this before,” Walker said.

“To his credit, he immediately disclosed the incident to the Blue Cross NC Board. He stepped down from his daily duties and voluntarily and successfully completed 30 days of inpatient substance use treatment. He’s committed to continuing to handle this appropriately going forward and will do so,” the attorney added..

CNN has reached out to Walker and has not heard back.

Conway is set to appear in court October 8 for two counts of misdemeanor child abuse stemming from the June incident and a count of reckless driving, driving while impaired, failure to maintain lane control and civil revocation of a driver’s license, according to online records in Randolph County.

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