Highmark Board of Directors Names Industry Leader and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs as New CEO

Jun 04, 2012, 09:00 ET from Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH, June 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors of Highmark Inc. today announced the appointment of William Winkenwerder, Jr., M.D., M.B.A. as the company's new president and chief executive officer.   

Dr. Winkenwerder is a leading national health care executive with significant experience in medical care delivery, health insurance operations and national health policy. Among his accomplishments was his tenure as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense from October 2001 through April 2007, where he led the Military Health System's 132,000 personnel and served as the principal medical advisor to Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates.

The Military Health System provides care for 9.5 million people through its extensive network of private physicians and hospitals known as TRICARE and through more than 70 military hospitals worldwide.         

"We're extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Winkenwerder as our new CEO," said J. Robert Baum, Ph.D., Highmark's chairman of the board. "We conducted a very thorough search and there were many outstanding candidates. However, given Bill's extensive experience in public service, as well as his credentials as a physician and health care executive, he clearly has all of the attributes that we were looking for in a new CEO. His outstanding track record in the health care industry, along with his business expertise and strategic vision, make him uniquely qualified to lead our efforts going forward. While our company continues to evolve, we remain focused on our core values and ensuring that the communities we serve continue to have access to high-quality, affordable health care services."                 

"I'm looking forward to joining a great company that has been a leader in the Blue Cross Blue Shield system for many years," Dr. Winkenwerder said. "Highmark and its employees have a longstanding history of meeting the health care needs of millions of people. While there are many challenges ahead, I'm excited about the many opportunities we have in front of us – including our plans to create a new, integrated delivery system."

Dr. Winkenwerder, 58, is a graduate of Davidson College, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1976, and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1981. He also received a graduate degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1986. He is board certified in internal medicine and practiced primary care for several years.

Dr. Winkenwerder was appointed special assistant to the administrator for the agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid for the Department of Health and Human Services in 1987, and, in 1988, was recruited to Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta as the director of Quality Assurance and later became associate medical director.

In 1992, he was offered the position of vice president and chief medical officer for Prudential Health Care's Southern operations. In 1996, he was recruited by Emory University as the associate vice president for Health Affairs and vice president for the Academic Medical Center, where he was responsible for managing a 100-plus physician practice group.

He was vice chairman and executive vice president for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts from 1998-2001, and then joined the Department of Defense in September 2001. When 9/11 occurred, the appointment as the assistant secretary of Defense was accelerated and he began his position 10 days after 9/11. Shortly thereafter, he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Dr. Winkenwerder has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Defense in 2006, and the Nathan Davis Award from the American Medical Association in 2005. In 2006, Modern Healthcare named him the third most powerful physician executive in America. He was also named a Fellow in the American College of Physicians in 1998. Most recently, Dr. Winkenwerder has served as the chairman and CEO of the Winkenwerder Company, a consulting firm based in Alexandria, Va. that he founded in 2007. The company specializes in strategic advisory services to leading health care companies and organizations across America. 

He currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, Pride, a professional artist, and has a son, Will, who is a junior at Yale University. In his new role as Highmark's CEO, he will re-locate to Pittsburgh, Pa in mid-late July.

About Highmark
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.9 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware through the company's health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 20,000 employees across the country and provides a broad range of health and wellness services through its subsidiary and affiliate companies. For more information, visit, www.highmark.com.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.