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Sunday, 13 December 2015 22:10

New Priority Health CEO seeks dialogue with clients, care providers

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Budden Budden

GRAND RAPIDS — As she transitions next month to chief executive of one of the state’s largest health insurers, Joan Budden wants to reach out to clients and care providers to get their view of how Priority Health is doing.

Addressing the high cost of health coverage, the trend toward wellness and managing employee health, and navigating the push for price transparency remain top of mind for all health plans in today’s marketplace.

To keep up on what employers need in that evolving environment, Budden said she wants to get an even better feel for what clients and providers within Priority Health’s care network are thinking and experiencing.

“I’m going to go out and get into the marketplace a little bit. I want to hear from our customers how we’re doing. I want to talk to our provider partners and get their feedback and input, as well as employers and individuals, and really hear from them,” she said. “I want to know what they value, what they think is going well and what they don’t think is going so sell. I want to have a dialogue with them about where is health care headed, the myths and the truths about the ACA, how it’s helping them or giving them challenges, and what we can do to make their lives better.”

Budden joined Priority Health six years ago as chief marketing officer. She has more than 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry, having previously worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in various leadership and executive positions.

She succeeds retiring President and CEO Mike Freed as Priority Health navigates what she calls “exciting times in health care” brought on by the Affordable Care Act and an evolving economic model that emphasizes quality and outcomes over volume for providers. Priority Health at the same time is “in the best shape we’ve ever been in as an organization,” she said.

“There are a lot of changes that we’ve been going through and will probably continue to happen,” Budden said. “I just think that there are some dynamics going on in the marketplace where there are some real opportunities for change and disruption and we’re well-positioned to take advantage of it.”

As chief marketing officer at Priority Health, Budden led marketing for individual, group commercial and Medicare and Medicaid plans. She also spearheaded Priority Health’s implementation of programs related to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That process led the state to name Priority Health as the benchmark health plan for coverage sold on the public health exchange in Michigan.

In seeking a successor to Freed, parent health system Spectrum Health considered only internal candidates, which follows a corporate strategy of developing executive leadership from within, President and CEO Rick Breon told MiBiz.

Breon cited Budden’s background and “pretty deep experience” in marketing, product development and strategic planning and her ability to see the “complex issues” that health care faces today, Breon said. Her depth of experience “stood out more than anything else,” he said.

“She’s done a lot of things that are important to the sustainability and growth of the health plan,” Breon said.

Priority Health has more than 650,000 members statewide enrolled in various health plans. The HMO is the largest, with about 407,000 members as of Oct. 31, according to a quarterly report filed with state regulators. Budden expects membership to approach 700,000 early in 2016.

Through the third quarter, Priority Health’s HMO business had revenues of $1.62 billion with net income of $53.9 million, versus revenues of $1.48 billion and net income of $72.5 million through the first nine months of 2014, according to the financial report.

Read 2493 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:01

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