PARKERSBURG - Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield is changing its name, but retaining its commitment to West Virginia, according to company officials.
Company leaders, employees, state and local leaders and guests gathered Tuesday morning in the lobby of the company's downtown headquarters for the announcement.
The company has changed its name to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia. Highmark West Virginia is the short version.
"After a partnership spanning more than a decade, we have decided that our name should reflect Highmark's commitment to West Virginia," Fred Earley, president of Highmark West Virginia, said. "We felt it was time to rebrand."
Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield has had a nearly 12-year affiliation with Highmark Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company.
"The Mountain State name has served us well," Earley added. "We needed to align ourselves with the Highmark brand."
Earley and Highmark Inc. CEO Dr. Ken Melani reiterated only the name was different and nothing will change with regard to benefits and services.
"Through our decade-long relationship, Highmark has helped Mountain State remain competitive," Melani said. "Highmark is committed to providing the people of West Virginia with access to quality health care coverage. The name change is the next important step in our successful business partnership and underscores how important this region is to our company."
About 50 officials and guests attended the announcement, including West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette and representatives from the West Virginia Insurance Commission.
"We think there can be only brighter days ahead," Burdette said.
Melani said Highmark provides services to 2.4 million people nationwide. It employs about 19,000 people nationwide, including approximately 700 in downtown Parkersburg. Highmark West Virginia also has offices in Charleston, Wheeling and Weirton, W.Va.
Melani said the company has launched an advertising campaign to promote the name change. Highmark West Virginia will have a "major" presence at tonight's Capital Classic basketball game in Charleston.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also made an appearance and gave a short speech. He briefly mentioned the national state of health care and federal attempts at reform.
"There will be adjustment made," Manchin said. "I would like to repair what can be repaired before throwing everything out."