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Swedish leaving Trinity Health to become CEO of WellPoint

By Ashok Selvam
Posted: February 12, 2013 - 5:15 pm ET

Trinity Health President and CEO Joseph Swedish was named to succeed 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.

In an interview, Swedish said WellPoint's board recognized that the healthcare landscape was changing with a convergence of providers and payers.

“I think the organization felt there was tremendous value in a leader that understands the complexities of the provider community,” Swedish said. “And together with this team we'll be working to examine strategies and moving into this brave new world of healthcare.”

According to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Swedish will earn a base salary of $1.3 million, with bonuses that could earn him as much as $3.8 million. For fiscal 2013, WellPoint will award Swedish equity incentive grants valued at $8 million.

Jackie Ward, chair of WellPoint's board of directors said in a news release that Swedish's background and expertise is what the company needs.

“He brings to WellPoint an extensive track record leading large, complex healthcare organizations through diverse challenges in difficult market and regulatory environments, and his experience will be invaluable to WellPoint as we continue to find innovative ways to collaborate with providers in an effort to improve quality outcomes and reduce the cost of care,” Ward said.

WellPoint, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, has 37 million members in its affiliated health plans in 13 states. On Dec. 24, WellPoint completed its acquisition of Medicaid managed care carrier Amerigroup in a deal valued at $4.9 billion. The insurer also is expanding into primary care. In 2011 WellPoint paid $800 million to acquire CareMore Health Plan, a Medicare Advantage carrier that also operates care centers.

Vishnu Lekraj, an equity analyst who covers WellPoint for Morningstar, said the selection of Swedish “may point to where the industry is headed given the realities of the Affordable Care Act,” which encourages integration.

Swedish joined Trinity Health in 2004. “Joe has been a visionary leader for Trinity Health and an unrelenting advocate for our mission, and we wish him all the best in his new role,” Mary Mollison, chair of Trinity's board of directors, said in a news release.

Mollison said “Trinity Health and Catholic Health East remain committed to our consolidation, and we are continuing forward to integrate our organizations and close the consolidation this year.”

In October the two Catholic systems announced plans to merge and to create one of the largest not-for-profit systems in the U.S., with more than 70 hospitals in 21 states.

In 2010 Trinity Health paid Swedish a base salary of $1.2 million and performance bonuses and other compensation totaling $2.4 million, according to a filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

Since last June, Swedish has served as chair of the Catholic Health Association. He was No. 39 on Modern Healthcare's 2012 list of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare and has appeared on the annual list seven times.

(Correction: A previous version of this story reported incorrect information about Swedish's compensation at Trinity Health.)


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