Jim Schowalter is stepping down as CEO of the trade group for Minnesota's nonprofit health insurers and will move in March to a job at Bloomington-based HealthPartners.
Schowalter took the chief executive job at the Minnesota Council of Health Plans in January 2015 as the industry was suffering big losses in the market where individuals purchase health insurance.
The individual market underwent fundamental change in 2014 due to the federal Affordable Care Act. The trade group and Schowalter were in the position of explaining why carriers imposed big premium increases and network restrictions that angered many who buy health insurance on their own; he also was part of an industry push for state-funded programs that helped prop up the individual market.
At HealthPartners, Schowalter will become senior vice president of provider partnerships.
"Schowalter will lead the organization's strategic partnerships in current markets, as well as help develop new relationships that extend HealthPartners mission into new ones," the nonprofit group said in a news release.
HealthPartners is one of the state's largest nonprofit health insurers and also operates a growing network of hospitals and clinics including Regions Hospital in St. Paul and the Park Nicollet health system in St. Louis Park.
Before becoming CEO of the trade group, Schowalter worked in state government finance over two decades, spanning administrations led by DFL, Republican and Independence party governors. Under DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, Schowalter was commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget where he oversaw state budgets -- from a time of massive deficits to a $1 billion surplus when he left.
The trade group says it plans to immediately begin a search for Schowalter's successor.