COO leaves Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 26, 2013 - 9:27 PM

A management shake-up under new CEO eliminated the chief operating officer’s job.

Chief Operating Officer Jim Eppel has left Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota after his job was eliminated in a reorganization under new CEO Michael Guyette, who took the top post in January.

Eppel’s departure follows more than a year of management turmoil at the state’s largest health insurance company and largest nonprofit.

Jim McManus, a spokesman for St. Paul-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield, confirmed that Eppel left in mid-March with little fanfare.

Eppel was named COO in April 2012, during a management shake-up by then-CEO Kenneth Burdick, who was later replaced by Guyette.

The company said in a statement that the executive leadership reorganization was an attempt “to achieve a more streamlined reporting structure. This new structure no longer includes the position of chief operating officer. As a result, Jim Eppel has left the company. Jim made many significant contributions in his time at Blue Cross, and we wish him all the best.”

Eppel joined Blue Cross in 2007, and before being named COO was senior vice president of health management and commercial markets.

Eppel was just the latest of many to leave the company.

Last July, Blue Cross removed Burdick as CEO after he was on the job only six months. Burdick’s departure came at a difficult time for Blue Cross, which was trying to adapt to changes in the medical industry posed by the federal Affordable Care Act. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Chairman Vance Opperman said Burdick’s departure was about “a difference in culture” between Burdick’s for-profit experience and the nonprofit Blue Cross.

In addition, Burdick’s brief tenure was marked by turmoil. He had been brought in to replace Patrick Geraghty, who left in August 2011 to become CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. But within five weeks of Burdick’s arrival at Minnesota’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the company’s chief financial officer, chief medical officer, and senior vice president of marketing and public affairs had left the company.

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