Minn. BCBS ousts CEO over leadership clash

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has pushed out its CEO, who held the position for only six months, citing leadership concerns.

The Blue Cross board of directors concluded that CEO Kenneth Burdick couldn't provide the type of leadership needed "in this rapidly changing environment," facing the health insurance industry, Blue Cross Board Chairman Vance Opperman told the Pioneer Press.

Named CEO in February, Burdick previously worked as an executive with UnitedHealth and Coventry, both publicly traded, for-profit companies.

"What you have is a difference in culture," Opperman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "The difference between for-profit and not-for-profit is pretty big. ... After looking at this for many hours and many meetings, we came to the unfortunate and unhappy realization that Ken couldn't make the transition and couldn't bring the leadership team with him."

Minnesota's largest health insurer also was concerned about adequate disclosure of anticipated business activities involving a prior member of Blue Cross' board. Although the business activity didn't actually take place and Burdick wasn't directly involved in the matter, Opperman told the Pioneer Press that the situation could have appeared as a conflict of interest.

A Blue Cross board review and internal investigation into the matter didn't find any financial impropriety or unlawful actions, but Blue Cross saw "examples of leadership that weren't optimal," Opperman said. "We thought that the leadership team should have been more in tune to the possibility of the conflict," he explained.

While Blue Cross searches for a new chief executive, it named Scott Lynch, the current senior vice president and chief legal officer, as interim CEO, reported the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

"Years ago we had the luxury of time," Opperman told the Star-Tribune. "We don't have that luxury anymore. With all the changes in healthcare--we've got the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and exchanges--it's coming at us like a tsunami. We're desirous to move ahead very quickly. This is a time when healthcare has to be efficiently provided and you have to have terrific leadership."

To learn more:
- read the Pioneer Press article
- see the Minneapolis Star-Tribune article
- check out the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal article

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