Chutes & Ladders—Walmart nabs top Cambia exec; AHA's Nickels retiring

Graphic of workers with parachutes and ladders
(Lia Shaked)

Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please submit the good news—or the bad—from your shop, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.


Cheryl Pegus, M.D., has been tapped by Walmart to serve as its new executive vice president of health and wellness. She is Cambia Health Solutions' president of Cambia Consumer Health Solutions and chief medical officer of Cambia Health Solutions.

Cheryl Pegus, M.D.

In the role, Pegus will lead health and wellness efforts "across the Walmart enterprise," the retail giant said in an announcement. She will report to Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner. She has also been charged with furthering the company's "bold healthcare vision."

Pegus' first day with Walmart will be Dec. 21. 

Pegus has also previously served in executive roles at Pfizer, Aetna and Walgreens, and is a trained cardiologist. She was recently honored as a Fierce Healthcare Woman of Influence.

At Walmart Health and Wellness, Pegus will oversee 4,700 pharmacies and 3,700 vision centers along with Walmart Health's clinics, digital health platforms and Walmart Insurance Services, the company's newly launched insurance brokerage.

Tom Nickels 

American Hospital Association

Tom Nickels plans to retire from his post as executive vice president for government relations and public policy for the American Hospital Association (AHA) next year. 

The high-profile policy chief, who joined the AHA in 1994, worked on key legislation such as the Balanced Budget Act, the Balanced Budget Refinement Act, the Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—as well as the fight against its repeal—and the CARES Act as well as issues ranging from regulatory relief to drug pricing to COVID-19, officials said in a statement.

He previously ran the Washington office for the American College of Emergency Physicians and, before that, worked for the American Nurses Association

Nickels will be succeeded in the role by executive vice president-designate Stacey Hughes, president and founding partner of The Nickles Group, a D.C.-based political consulting firm. Hughes currently works as an outside political consultant for the AHA. She will join the association in January and overlap with Nickels. 


R. Scott Blackley was appointed to serve as chief financial officer of health insurer Oscar.

Blackley will begin the role March 16

Blackley has served as the CFO of Capital One since May 2016. Previously, he served as Capital One’s principal accounting officer and controller. He has also held various executive positions at Fannie Mae, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and KPMG.

“It’s an exciting and important time to join Oscar. By combining the power of a technology company with the reach of a health insurance company, Oscar is transforming the industry to be more consumer-centric at a time when America needs affordable care more than ever,” said Blackley in a statement.

He is succeeding Sid Sankaran, who is leaving the company in spring 2021 to become chairman and CEO of SiriusPoint, a global reinsurance company.

> CommonSpirit Health named Thomas (Tom) McGinn, M.D., the system's executive vice president of physician enterprise. He is succeeding Bruce Swartz, who retired Nov. 30.