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Tuesday, 06 March 2012 10:57

Horn resigns as CEO of Priority Health

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GRAND RAPIDS — After 15 years at the helm, Kim Horn decided to step down as head of Priority Health this spring to pursue a new phase of her career in health care.

Horn resigned March 6 as the president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based Priority Health, which she led through a period of tremendous growth and took statewide with the 2007 acquisition of the former Care Choices HMO in Detroit to become one of the largest health plans in Michigan. Her last day is May 1.

In an interview with MiBiz, Horn said reaching 15 years as chief executive represented a mile marker for her.

“With all mile markers, you kind of assess what you want to do next and what you’ve done in the past,” said Horn, who called her decision to leave as “primarily personal.”

Horn, 52, considered the move for some time as she weighed “where I am in my life, my skill sets and what I want to do next.” She noted that her youngest daughter is preparing to graduate from high school this year.

“It’s kind of a natural thing for me to do and I just decided that it’s time to leave. The organization is in a great position,” she said. “Everything seemed to me the right time.”

Besides, she added, “after 15 years in an organization, change is good.”

“It’s a very good thing for an organization to able to look at the future a little bit differently than maybe I would have,” Horn said.

Horn plans to “take a little bit of a breath” after her departure and “then I’ll start looking at other opportunities.” She has nothing in mind right now, the she wants to “work with purpose and have an impact on health care.”

“I’m really looking at the future and new challenges,” she said. “I hope I have 10 to 15 years left in another career.”

Horn joined Priority Health as chief executive in 1997. Under her leadership, Priority Health grew from about 120,000 members to more than 600,000 and now generates annual revenues of more than $2 billion. Along with the growth, Priority Health has regularly been recognized over the years as one of the best health plans in the nation and early on embraced the wellness movement in its product designs.

Michael Freed, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Priority Health’s parent company, Spectrum Health, will take over as interim CEO.
Spectrum Health owns a 93.9 percent share of Priority Health. Traverse City’s Munson Healthcare holds a 5.5 percent stake and Northern Michigan Medical Center Regional Health System in Petoskey owns the remaining 0.6 percent.

“It is without question that Kim’s extraordinary vision and leadership has built Priority Health into one of the fastest growing, not-for-profit health plans in the nation,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Richard Breon said. “She has made countless contributions to the company’s success over the last 15 years. Her unique insights, creativity and incredible vision will certainly be missed.”

Priority Health turned around its finances during the past year after posting a rare loss of $7.1 million for 2010 for its HMO product line that represents about three-quarters of the business. The health plan recorded 2011 net income of $33.1 million on its HMO product, according to an annual financial report filed with state regulators.

Horn departs at a time of major change in health care, from reforms in the payment system, creating of health exchanges to buy policies and increased Medicaid enrollments as eligibility requirement soon change, to a growing focus on consumerism, transparency and quality and care management.

Priority Health has a “very explicit” plan to follow and is well-positioned to changes coming in the next two years under federal health reform that her successor will have to carry out.

“We’ve thought a lot about it. We have a lot of things in place and we have a very good plan,” she said. “The organization is very focused on what we need to get done.”

Before joining Priority Health, Horn worked from 1988 to 1996 as chief operating financial officer and later chief operating officer Mercy Health Plan at Care Choices and Preferred Choices, the insurance subsidiaries of Trinity Health, formerly Mercy Health Services in Farmington Hills.

Read 4685 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 11:46

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