C-suite shifts: CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell, Optima Health CEO Michael Dudley set to retire 

Table with chairs around it
Dennis Matheis, who most recently worked for Anthem, will succeed Michael M. Dudley as the president and CEO of Optima Health.

The CEOs at two insurance companies are set to retire. 

Michael M. Dudley, the president and CEO of Optima Health and senior corporate vice president of Sentara Healthcare, will retire on Dec. 31, after more than two decades with the health plan, the insurer announced (PDF). 

Dennis Matheis will succeed him in both roles. Matheis will join Optima on Nov. 1, and will work alongside Dudley in his final two months before retirement. 

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"I cannot thank Mike enough for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm and motivation he has given Optima Health over the past 21 years," Howard Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, said in the announcement. "Mike leaves a legacy to be proud of and leaves Optima Health in a strong position for new leadership to take the helm." 

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Dudley announced his plans to retire in November 2016, kicking off a search for a successor. Matheis worked most recently for Anthem, serving as president of central region and exchanges and as integration leader for the insurer's ill-fated acquisition of Cigna.

Chet Burrell, who has served as president and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield since 2007, will also step down, effective mid-2018, CareFirst announced. The insurer's board of directors will launch a nationwide search for his replacement. 

"A decade of service to the mission of CareFirst has, for me, passed quickly," Burrell told staff. "No matter the demands, it was never 'work' to me, as I felt drawn by our organization's purpose, by our mission, by our cause." 

RELATED: Highest-paid health insurance CEO earned $22M in 2016 

Prior to joining CareFirst, Burrell served in varied leadership roles in healthcare technology and consulting organizations, including Novalis, which he founded. He also held executive roles with Blue Cross Blue Shield in New York and in New York state government.

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