IBJNews

WellPoint taps Catholic hospital system chief as new CEO

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. named the head of a Catholic hospital system as its next CEO.

Joe Swedish, CEO of Michigan-based Trinity Health since December 2004, will replace Angela Braly, who was forced out by angry investors in August. Swedish, 61, will take office March 25.

Joe Swedish mugSwedish

“He brings to WellPoint an extensive track record leading large, complex health care organizations through diverse challenges in difficult market and regulatory environments, and his experience will be invaluable to WellPoint as we continue to find innovative ways to collaborate with providers in an effort to improve quality outcomes and reduce the cost of care,” Jackie Ward, chairwoman of WellPoint's board, said in a prepared statement.

“Joe’s background, in concert with our management’s insurance market expertise, creates a team uniquely qualified to manage all facets of our evolving health care system,” Ward added.

Swedish helped grow Trinity into the nation's 10th-largest hospital system, with $9 billion in annual revenue. Trinity’s 56,000 employees operate 47 hospitals and 32 long-term care facilities, along with numerous outpatient centers and clinics.

The not-for-profit organization is about to get even bigger. Swedish recently signed a letter of intent to merge with Pennsylvania-based Catholic Health East, which will create the fifth-largest hospital system in the nation, with $13 billion in annual revenue.

Swedish was not among executives widely touted by analysts as likely successors to Braly. Those included Ronald Williams, the retired head of insurer Aetna Inc., and James Carlson, who ran the Medicaid insurer Amerigroup Corp. and engineered the sale of his company last year to WellPoint for $4.9 billion.

“Surprised,” Ana Gupte, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News reacting to Swedish’s hiring. “I have actually not heard of him prior to this. WellPoint is showing a focus on integrated health delivery with this appointment.”

In an interview with IBJ, Swedish pledged to further collaborations between WellPoint and health care providers.

"My arrival is representative of the landscape transforming in health care," he said.

Before leading Trinity, Swedish was CEO of Colorado-based hospital system Centura Health.

As WellPoint's CEO, Swedish will lead the nation's second-largest health insurer, with more than $70 billion in annual revenue.

The company struggled under Braly’s five-year tenure. Its stock generated a negative return of 28 percent, the lowest among the five largest health insurers.

Investors grew frustrated with WellPoint's repeated missing of earnings projections. They also grew to favor WellPoint rival UnitedHealth Group because it seemed better positioned to succeed under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The health reform law will shift growth away from WellPoint’s traditional strengths in the employer-sponsored insurance market and toward government-sponsored health plans. WellPoint is scrambling to retool its business model in response.

Since Braly's departure, WellPoint has been led by interim-CEO John Cannon. Cannon will remain with WellPoint as executive vice president of legal and public affairs.




 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

ADVERTISEMENT