New WellPoint CEO pick signals focus on provider collaboration

In a surprise move, WellPoint announced Tuesday it has named Joseph Swedish, a former hospital official who has never managed a public company, as its new chief executive officer.

Swedish, who will assume WellPoint's helm on March 25, has spent his entire career on the provider side of healthcare, most recently as the president and CEO of Trinity Health, which operates 47 hospitals across the country. He also led Colorado-based health system Centura Health and was an executive at hospital company HCA, WellPoint noted.

Naming Swedish as CEO signals WellPoint's focus on collaboration and integrated healthcare delivery. His experience on the provider side will help WellPoint partner with healthcare providers to continue improving efficiency and lowering costs.

"My arrival is representative of the landscape transforming in healthcare," Swedish told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

WellPoint already has begun collaborating with providers, including acquiring Medicare specialist CareMore and launching a new initiative that pays more money to primary care doctors that better manage patient care, and Swedish told The Wall Street Journal he hopes to "accelerate that at a very rapid pace."

Swedish wasn't included within WellPoint's rumored list of CEO candidates, including retired Aetna CEO Ronald Williams and Amerigroup CEO James Carlson, to replace its former chief exec Angela Braly, who resigned amid shareholder scrutiny.

He will be paid $1.25 million in salary and as much as $3.75 million in bonuses. He'll also receive stock options valued at as much as $8 million, plus $3.56 million for leaving Trinity, Bloomberg reported.

To learn more:
- here's the WellPoint statement
- read the Wall Street Journal article (subscription required)
- check out the Bloomberg article
- see the Indianapolis Business Journal article

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