KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

WellPoint Names Hospital Industry Veteran As New Chief Executive

The insurer announced yesterday that Joseph R. Swedish, the chief executive of Trinity Health, will replace Angela Braly at the company's helm.

The New York Times: Big Insurer Hires A Hospital Executive As Chief
Joseph R. Swedish, the 61-year-old chief executive of a major nonprofit Catholic-owned health system, Trinity Health, will become WellPoint's chief executive on March 25. He will be responsible for leading the company, which operates profit-making Blue Cross plans in 14 states, into a future in which health insurers will sell insurance through state and federal exchanges and to work in new ways with hospitals and doctors (Abelson, 2/12).

The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Names New Chief Executive
WellPoint Inc. named Joseph R. Swedish as its new chief executive, unexpectedly turning to a hospital-industry veteran to lead the second-largest U.S. health insurer through the challenging implementation of the health-care overhaul (Mathews and Kamp, 2/12).

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: Health Insurer WellPoint Picks Joseph Swedish As Its New CEO
Swedish's resume includes work with HCA, the nation's largest hospital chain. He also has served as a director for another insurer, Coventry Health Care. In his new job, Swedish's tasks will include helping WellPoint prepare for coverage expansions that start next year under the federal healthcare overhaul (2/13).

Modern Healthcare: Swedish Leaving Trinity Health To Become CEO Of WellPoint
Trinity Health President and CEO Joseph Swedish was named to replace Angela Braly at the helm of WellPoint, one of the nation's largest health insurers, effective March 25. The news comes months after Trinity Health announced a merger with Catholic Health East that would create a Roman Catholic system with national reach with Swedish, 61, as its CEO. Braly stepped down from her position as WellPoint's CEO last August after months of pressure from shareholders who were unhappy with the direction of the Indianapolis-based company. Trinity board member Larry Warren will serve as interim leader of the Livonia, Mich.-based system. Warren is the former CEO of Howard University Hospital in Washington (Selvam, 2/12).

Meanwhile, in pharmaceutical industry news -

The New York Times: Dispute Develops Over Discount Drug Program
The program, known as 340B, requires most drug companies to provide hefty discounts — typically 20 to 50 percent — to hospitals and clinics that treat low-income and uninsured patients. But despite the seemingly admirable goal, the program is now under siege, the focus of a fierce battle between powerful forces — the pharmaceutical industry, which wants to rein in the discounts, and the hospitals, which say they might have to cut services without them (Pollack, 2/12).

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