The newly named chief executive of Highmark will face significant challenges when he arrives in July, not the least being the need to bring some stability to an organization trying to achieve an ambitious makeover.
Highmark, based in Pittsburgh, has seen turmoil at the top with the abrupt exit of the insurer's former chief executive, who was dismissed in April after facing trespass and assault charges. Last week, Highmark announced that Dr. William Winkenwerder, a consultant and former Defense Department official, would succeed Dr. Kenneth Melani as president and CEO.
Winkenwerder joins Highmark in the middle of its push to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System. The deal, which is under review by state officials, would diversify Highmark's business to include healthcare delivery alongside an insurer. It would also add West Penn Allegheny's financial distress to Highmark's operations in a highly competitive healthcare market.
“I'll be working with management to ensure the excellent execution of those strategies,” Winkenwerder told reporters after his appointment was announced. Winkenwerder, who said he has not reviewed details of the pending transaction, was expected to meet last week with West Penn Allegheny leaders for an introduction.