UCare has named Mark Traynor as the Minneapolis-based health insurer’s permanent chief executive, a job Traynor has held on an interim basis since April.

During the past six months, Traynor oversaw UCare’s return as a large managed care vendor in the state’s Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs. With the growth, the HMO’s enrollment doubled to about 352,000 people by the end of the second quarter.

At the start of 2016, the nonprofit HMO saw its revenue cut roughly in half due to the results of a competitive bid for health plans in the state public programs, which serve lower-income state residents. UCare was created initially to manage care for public program enrollees and was the largest HMO in the programs before the bid results took effect last year.

“I’m thrilled and honored to lead an organization that makes a difference in the lives of our members and the broader community,” Traynor said.

UCare provides coverage to people in state public programs, Medicare beneficiaries and those who buy individual coverage through the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange.

In 2016, the HMO posted a $25 million loss on revenue of $1.68 billion. Through the first six months this year, UCare saw net income of $9.6 million on $1.31 billion in revenue.

Traynor was named interim chief executive in April after then-CEO Jim Eppel left UCare to work for Bloomington-based HealthPartners. Shortly after Eppel become CEO in 2015, state officials announced the competitive bidding results, which prompted UCare to eliminate 250 jobs from a workforce of roughly 850 people.

Earlier this year, UCare returned in a major way to the state programs after Minnetonka-based Medica announced it would drop the contract, saying payment rates were too low. Medica sued after the state responded by expanding contracts with other managed care companies including UCare; a judge dismissed Medica’s lawsuit on Tuesday.

UCare announced in March that it would hire about 90 people to handle the extra business, with the influx of enrollees coming to UCare beginning in May.

About 800 people now work at UCare, Traynor said. Before serving as chief executive, he was UCare’s chief legal officer and a senior vice president for provider relations.

“Like all health care organizations, we continue to navigate uncertain policy and market environments,” Traynor said. “But we’re confident UCare’s focus on service and value to individual members will ensure we continue to be a preferred choice.”


Christopher Snowbeck 612-673-4744

Twitter: @chrissnowbeck