Jon Cotton appointed corporate president of Meridian
Jon Cotton has taken a step up the executive ranks with his promotion to corporate president of Meridian, a Detroit-based health plan that is Michigan's largest Medicaid HMO. The promotion is effective Sept. 4.
Cotton, 39, is one of several members of the family that owns Meridian, founded by his father David Cotton, M.D., and his mother Shery in 1997. David Cotton will continue as CEO and chairman of Meridian.
"It's an honor to announce Jon as the corporate president," David Cotton said in a statement. "We are confident that his 17 years of hard work and leadership have prepared him for this next step."
Since 2012, Jon Cotton has been president of MeridianHealth of Michigan. Sean Kendall, Merdian's senior vice president of business development who has been with the company since 2008, will succeed Jon Cotton.
"Sean has a natural acumen for leadership and a unique passion for both our providers and members," Jon Cotton said. "I anticipate Sean to make significant contributions to the Michigan Medicaid program and lead our organization into the future."
In his new role, Jon Cotton — a 2015 Crain's Newsmaker of the Year — will oversee all future business initiatives and the company's markets in Michigan and Illinois, where Meridian has 382,500 Medicaid members. He will also oversee the corporate quality improvement, finance, business development, communications and marketing.
"I am very excited about it. We had a soft transition in February where we had a shadow program. I shadowed my dad and Sean (Kendall) shadowed me."
Jon Cotton said he started working part time with his father while he was in college in the late 1990s. He joined the company in 2000 as a staff accountant. But he said it was a little better starting job than his younger brother, Michael, who started out in the maintenance department and is now Meridian's COO.
"I worked and traveled with my dad. In the beginning we had well less than 20,000 lives. We went door to door to make pitches to primary care physician offices," Jon Cotton said. "I remember we stopped at a primary care office. She had nine Medicaid members and when we signed her up, we though it was a big win for us."
On his promotion, Jon Cotton recalled when his father called in him and his twin brother, Sean, for a meeting. Sean Cotton is president of Meridian Technologies and MeridianRx LLC, the company's pharmacy benefit management subsidiary, and is Meridian's corporate chief administrative officer.
"We all got together, all three of us. Dad said this is a transition and I want a successor, but I put it on you guys, I don't want to make this decision," Jon Cotton said. "We have been planning for this for a number of years and have been divvying up responsibilities. Sean has a significant operation he heads up. Who is good at what, that is how we have approached it. We didn't want to step on each other's toes. Both parents have been very supportive."
Jon Cotton recalls fighting for Medicaid expansion in Michigan in the years after the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was approved in 2010.
"I was thrown into the fire and heavily involved in trying to get that waiver approved," he said. "Another thing I was heavily involved in was when the state entertained the idea to carve out pharmacy from health plan contracts. It would have been significant blow to our company with our own (pharmacy benefit management company). We had to prove what we did."
Jon Cotton also was involved with helping the people of Flint cope with the severe lead problem in their drinking water. Meridian helped develop the Fueling Food for Flint Initiative, a partnership with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, that delivered 320,000 meals to 400 families each day.
Looking ahead, Jon Cotton said Meridian is looking to bid on the Medicaid program in North Carolina in 2018. The company wants to enter the Medicaid markets in Ohio, Wisconsin and South Carolina. It already holds a Medicare Advantage contract in Michigan (12,000 members) and Illinois (8,000 members) and is just starting in Iowa with 50 members.
"We anticipate growing the business to 100,000 covered lives in the next three years," said Jon Cotton, adding that Meridian is looking at adding North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin. It will expand into Indiana in 2018.
"I will be traveling a lot more and as we add more states. I will be there regularly traveling with business development team," Jon Cotton said.
Of concern to Jon Cotton and many Medicaid health plan executives is what the Trump administration and Congress will do to dismantle Obamacare and its Medicaid expansion provisions.
"It is very concerning for the two states where we have Medicaid expansion," he said. "We have more than 300,000 lives in those two states combined" in Medicaid expansion.
"Jon Cotton appointed corporate president of Meridian" originally appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.
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