Title: Chief financial officer

Jim DuCharme, new CFO at Eagan-based pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics, is preparing for sweeping changes in health care -- no matter how the Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Care Act.

DuCharme said his professional health plan work "has become as much an avocation or a passion" as it is a career.

"I view it as an honor and responsibility to have some impact on health costs when people are struggling to maintain coverage these days," said DuCharme, who joined Prime last month.

Changes taking effect in 2014 under the act include patient protections against discrimination because of pre-existing conditions and the establishment of health insurance exchanges for consumers who don't have coverage from work. It is unclear how the Supreme Court's decision, which could come this week, will impact provisions parts of the act.

But the overall health coverage marketplace likely will become more like retail and will be more consumer-directed, said DuCharme, who has previously served as CFO at several health plans, including both Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Vermont. In his most recent role at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Massachusetts, he operated in that state's post-health reform environment. He has a master of business administration in corporate finance from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Prime Therapeutics, founded in 1998, is owned by 13 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationwide; it serves 20 million consumers. About half of its 2,200 employees work in the Twin Cities.

QWhat did you find appealing about this opportunity?

AThe outstanding growth opportunity .... The quality and talent of the executive management team. And the ability to have a meaningful impact on health care and pharmacy costs.

QHas pharmacy been overlooked in the marketplace?

AHistorically it has been. Increasingly people are looking at things like adherence to prescriptions for diabetes or for asthma having a dramatic impact on reducing overall costs, reducing hospitalizations and reducing adverse conditions. Proper prescription use is a gateway to overall reductions in cost.