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Excellus’ Vercillo expects no major CNY changes after CEO Klein retires

By Journal Staff

Date:

The leader of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Central New York region does not anticipate any overhaul of the insurer’s local operations when its CEO retires at the end of the year. 

“We’re a mission-driven organization,” says Dr. Arthur Vercillo, regional president for Excellus. “We feel very strongly that we should be local and collaborative. We believe in partnerships. These things are part of our DNA.”

Vercillo discussed the Central New York region’s future after Excellus announced on Feb. 28 that its CEO, David Klein, plans to retire at the end of 2012. Klein also serves as CEO of Rochester–based The Lifetime Healthcare Cos., which is the parent company of Rochester–based Excellus.

“I’m proud to have helped build, and then to have had the privilege to lead, the largest and most successful nonprofit health plan in upstate New York,” Klein said in a news release announcing his planned retirement. “As an organization we’ve remained true to our mission of providing as many people as possible with access to quality health care at an affordable price.”

Klein has been CEO of Excellus and Lifetime Healthcare since 2003. He joined Excellus’ predecessor company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the Rochester Area, in 1986. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the Rochester Area merged with other upstate New York Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensed plans to form Excellus in 1998.

Before coming to Rochester, Klein worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois as a senior sales and marketing executive. He first joined the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in 1972.

“David was instrumental in leading this corporation for more than 25 years,” Randall Clark, chairman of the board of directors for Excellus and Lifetime, said in the news release. “During that time, it went from a single health plan in Rochester with revenue of less than $400 million to a 

$5.6 billion entity that is the largest nonprofit financier of health care in upstate New York.”

Vercillo says Klein pushed for health-care planning at a local level. An example of that planning is the insurer’s involvement in the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York (HAC-CNY), which launched Central New York’s regional health-information organization (RHIO) and now operates under the name HealtheConnections.

A RHIO manages an online health-information exchange, which gives participating medical providers access to electronic health records. Central New York’s RHIO launched in May 2010 and has connected 15 hospitals and one laboratory since then.

“Those strong qualities — the localism, the local employment — none of that is going to change,” Vercillo says. “Frankly, [Klein] would not be leaving if he did not think they were part of our culture now.”

Vercillo does not anticipate any changes in Excellus employment levels in Central New York after Klein retires. The insurer has about 1,000 employees in its Central New York region, he says.

The Lifetime Healthcare Cos. employs a total of about 6,600 people. It provides health insurance to more than 1.8 million people and sells long-term care coverage in all 50 states. 

Its other affiliates include Univera Healthcare, which serves eight counties in Western New York, and Salina–based EBS-RMSCO, Inc. Other affiliates include Lifetime Home Care and Hospice and Lifetime Health Medical Group, which provide direct patient services. 

Excellus and Lifetime will announce Klein’s successor in April. Vercillo declined to discuss potential candidates for the position.

“We’ve got a board that has embodied all of those principals I listed earlier,” he says. “I can’t imagine that a person would come in that would change any of that.”   

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