Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has hired an executive from the for-profit health insurance giant Anthem, Inc. as its next CEO.
Dr. Craig Samitt, who most recently served as executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Indianapolis-based Anthem, will take the top job as president and chief executive at Eagan-based Blue Cross effective July 30.
Blue Cross, which is the largest health insurer for Minnesota residents, is facing a big change next year as the company’s “Medicare Cost” plans are scheduled to go away in many counties across the state. Currently, Blue Cross has the largest share of the Minnesota market for Medicare health plans, but the business likely will get more competitive with the coming shift.
“During this time of health care transformation, we are confident that Craig possesses the experience, perspective, values and capabilities necessary to lead and grow our organization in the coming years,” said Michael Robinson, chair of the Blue Cross board of trustees, in a Thursday statement.
About 2.9 million people have insurance benefits via Blue Cross of Minnesota, which employs about 3,800 people. In 2017, Blue Cross reported net income of $50 million on $12.48 billion in revenue, for a profit margin of 0.4 percent.
Kathleen Blatz, a Blue Cross board member and former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, has served as interim chief executive at the nonprofit since previous CEO Michael Guyette left for a new job this spring.
Guyette took the top job in January 2013 at Blue Cross, after the insurer pushed out after six months a new CEO who also came from a large national for-profit insurer. The chair of Blue Cross’s board at the time told the Star Tribune: “The difference between for-profit and not-for-profit is pretty big.” Guyette also came from the for-profit ranks; he was head of national accounts at Aetna.
The Blue Cross announcement on Thursday credited Samitt with creating and executing the overall clinical vision and strategy for Anthem, which is the second-largest health insurer in the U.S. The company operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans in a number of states.
Samitt also developed Anthem’s portfolio of provider partnerships and innovative payment models, Blue Cross said. The insurer also credited the executive with “improving patient outcomes and delivering value-based care.”
An internal medicine physician by training, Samitt previously was president and CEO of HealthCare Partners, a subsidiary of DaVita Inc., and president and CEO of Dean Health System Inc., a large integrated health systems in the Midwest.
Samitt is a board member of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which monitors the quality of health plans. He’s also a former commissioner with the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC), an influential independent agency that advises Congress on Medicare payment policy.
Samitt earned an undergraduate degree from Tufts University, a medical degree from Columbia University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, Blue Cross said. He completed a medical residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.
In January, Blue Cross of Minnesota said it was shifting back-office work for its management of state public health insurance programs to a subsidiary of Anthem.