Skip to main content


Independence Blue Cross launches Advanced Network for Gene-Based Therapeutics

Network includes gene therapy leaders Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) today announced the launch of its Advanced Network for Gene-Based Therapeutics, which will be effective March 1, 2023. The new network is designed to help members access potentially life-changing gene-based therapies from best-in-class health care providers that have demonstrated an ability to exceed quality, safety, and value benchmarks in administering gene-based therapies. These treatments provide fresh hope for patients with inherited rare genetic conditions, including a form of blindness and severe neurological and blood diseases.

“We’re proud to launch this new network as part of our comprehensive strategy to manage specialty drugs,” said Rodrigo Cerdá, M.D, senior vice president of Health Services and chief medical officer at Independence. “Gene-based therapies, although expensive, are often one-dose treatments and have so much potential to improve a person’s quality of life. That’s why we’re committed to making sure our members have continued access to these important treatment options.

The providers in Independence’s Advanced Network for Gene-Based Therapeutics include Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Both have played pivotal roles in the development and clinical trials of first-in-the-nation gene-based therapies, which have paved the way for their approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As pioneers of these approaches, they also have staff who are experts in the protocols established by manufacturers to ensure optimal safety and the best possible outcomes when administering the therapies to patients.

“We are excited to collaborate with Independence in this important, emerging area of medicine,” said David L. Porter, M.D., director of Cell Therapy and Transplantation in Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center and the Jodi Fisher Horowitz professor in Leukemia Care Excellence in the Perelman School of Medicine. “As world leaders in gene and cell therapy development, our teams at Penn Medicine are committed to ensuring that patients can count on us to provide them with cutting-edge care. We look forward to working on this program with Independence and CHOP, which share our focus on defining the future of these life-changing therapies.”

“At CHOP, we’re driven by a relentless commitment to discover and provide the best treatments to pediatric patients, and this program with Independence will allow us to reach patients for whom gene-based therapies could be potentially life-changing,” said Joseph W. St. Geme, M.D., physician-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at CHOP. “CHOP has been a leader in developing pediatric gene-based therapies, and working with our colleagues at Penn Medicine, we’ve taken cell and gene therapies from the bench to the bedside. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and leading the way in providing the best possible treatments for children with genetic diseases as part of the Advanced Network for Gene-Based Therapeutics.”

Requests for gene-based therapies like Luxturna® and Zynteglo®, which are eligible for coverage under the Independence medical benefit, will continue to require precertification approval to ensure that members meet the coverage criteria in Independence’s medical policies. For more information on coverage details and requirements, please visit

“As part of our strategy, we are also pursuing outcomes-based agreements with drug manufacturers as new gene-based therapies come to market,” said Susan Larkin, senior vice president for Health Markets at Independence. “Innovative strategies like this are an important step in helping to manage the high cost of these therapies. Outcomes-based agreements work a lot like a money-back guarantee. We agree to a set price and measurable expected outcomes with a manufacturer for a specific therapy. If the therapy delivers on its intended outcomes, we pay the set price. If it doesn’t, the manufacturer refunds a portion of the cost.”

Independence has Registered Nurse Health Coaches available to provide extra support to members who are approved to receive these therapies. Health Coaches, in partnership with care teams at Penn Medicine and CHOP, can assist with every step of the process, from diagnosis to post-treatment. The dedicated team is trained to answer member questions, empower member decision-making, and facilitate connections between members and the specialists on the Advanced Network care team.

Media Contact:
Diana Quattrone
215-815-7828 (cell)