Maryland School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has resigned from the board of directors of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland at the urging of the State Ethics Commission, which expressed concerns that her membership posed a potential conflict with her state duties.
Dr. Grasmick, who was named to the board in the spring, said yesterday that her resignation was unrelated to the recent spate of publicity regarding the financial stability of Maryland's largest health insurer. The Maryland plan is among Blue Cross plans across the country that are being studied as part of an investigation by a U.S. Senate subcommittee into the insurance industry.
Upon her appointment to the board, Dr. Grasmick said, she notified the Ethics Commission, as is customary. Several commissioners raised concerns about her position, and she asked the panel's advice on whether it would be appropriate to remain on the 17-member board.
Dr. Grasmick said the ethics panel suggested she leave the board because of a potential conflict between her role as a
board member and her positions as state school superintendent and Maryland's special secretary for children and youth.
Mark C. Medairy Jr., a commission member, noted yesterday that state school systems, over which Dr. Grasmick has control, are among the largest purchasers of group health insurance. "This was a concern that myself and the other commission members shared that goes back several months," he said.
Dr. Grasmick also oversees health-related programs such as those dealing with teen-age pregnancy. In addition, Blue Cross of Maryland administers the state's health insurance program.
Grasmick said she submitted her resignation in late July, before the Ethics Commission's Aug. 2 deadline. She said she had attended only two board meetings. As a member of the Blue Cross board, Dr. Grasmick joined several other prominent Marylanders who have close ties to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
A spokeswoman said Blue Cross could provide no details on when or whether Dr. Grasmick would be replaced.