Jack Friedman Steps Down; Interim Successor Chosen

Long-standing policy director Tina Edlund joins consulting firm

After announcing his retirement more than a year ago, Jack Friedman is finally bowing out as CEO of Providence Health Plan on July 1. Originally he planned to leave in January, but agreed to remain until his successor had been chosen.

For some unexplained reason, Providence has been unable to choose that person. Rumors keep surfacing about a merger between PacificSource Health Plan and Providence, which have been flatly denied by both insurers. If that were to happen, it’s more than likely that Ken Provencher, CEO of PacificSource, would assume a commanding role.

But for the time being, Michael White, chief financial officer at Providence, will step into Friedman’s shoes. White will have overall responsibility for day-to-day operations and be responsible for claims and customer service, information systems, provider network strategy, Providence Preferred and sales and marketing of the health plan product line.

“In his nearly three years in the CFO role, Michael has brought great insights to the areas of strategic growth and greater financial alignment between the health plan and Providence’s delivery system,” Friedman said. “He also has helped us lower our administrative costs while providing world-class service.”

Friedman pointed to White’s finance experience on the delivery side and Providence Medical Group, which will help the health plan achieve greater levels of performance as an integrated system.

Last year, Friedman earned $550,032 from Providence Health Plans, representing a 28 percent decrease and $23,914 from Providence Health Assurance, its Medicaid arm.

“The timing of my retirement seems right,” Friedman said earlier. “We're growing our membership again, and the plan's financial position has never been stronger." He added that the plan's ‘young leaders are’ ready to assume more responsibility, and we need to advance them."

Providence broke the 500,000 enrollment mark with its commercial and self-insured plans, had a strong year in 2014, and became one of only 11 plans in the country given a five-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It’s all good, and the system is really happy with the plan and its performance,” said Friedman, who’ll remain on the board of Stand for Children, which is devoted to improving public schools and closing the achievement gap.

Providence also intends to take a serious look at re-entering the OEBB market – which covers more than 148,000 school district employees and their dependents – and bid on its RFP, which will be released in September. “We were in OEBB several years ago, and are interested in being there again in the right circumstances.”

Meanwhile, plaudits are already surfacing about Friedman’s impact on the healthcare system.

Denise Honzel, president of ZOOM+, called him “one of the best healthcare leaders in our state who’s contributed a tremendous amount to the industry.”

In 2003, Friedman left Providence to join Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon as its president and work under the direction of Mark Ganz, CEO and president of Cambia Health Solutions, its parent company. However, he left after several months to take the helm once again at Providence

Tina Edlund joins private sector

Tina Edlund, one of the most high profile healthcare officials in state government, has landed a job in the private sector, as the managing principal for Health Management Associates, a nationwide independent consulting firm with a focus on publicly-financed healthcare, including health policy development, Medicare and Medicaid solutions and complex business management services.

Edlund will run its Portland offices and has brought on board two colleagues from the Oregon Health Authority-- Cathy Kaufmann and Nora Leibowitz – as consultants. .

“It’s a real exciting opportunity, and the timing was right” Edlund told The Lund Report. “I’ll be doing work around Medicaid waivers, state innovation grants in Oregon and be working around the country.” HMA has offices in 16 states.

Edlund is in good company. Her HMA colleagues include senior officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Office of Management and Budget, state Medicaid directors, state budget officers, Cabinet-level health secretaries and policy advisors to governors and other elected officials.

Most recently, Edlund was Governor Brown’s federal liaison for healthcare, and led the transition of the eligibility and enrolment functions for Oregon’s health insurance exchange to the federally facilitated marketplace. Following the departure of Dr. Bruce Goldberg in 2013, she stepped in as acting director of the Oregon Health Authority and was responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Oregon.

Edlund joined the state in 2006 as deputy director of the Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research and later became chief of policy for the OHA.

Coquille Valley Hospital, has a new administrator

Karen Lautermilch becomes CEO of Coquille Valley Hospital on Aug. 1 after holding a similar position at. Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services in Gallup, N.M. She also previously served as chief patient officer at HighlineMedicalCenter in Seattle and CNO at Saint Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan, Wis.

She replaces Dennis Zielinski, who has been Coquille’s CEO.

Diane can be reached at [email protected].

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