CMS CMO Patrick Conway picked to lead Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has selected Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, the current chief medical officer at CMS, as its next president and CEO.

“Dr. Conway is a national and international leader in health system transformation, quality, and innovation,” Blue Cross NC board chair Frank Holding Jr. said in a statement. “His unique experiences as a health care provider and as a leader of the world’s largest health care payor will help Blue Cross NC fulfill its mission to improve the health and well-being of our customers and communities.”

Conway’s other titles at CMS include deputy administrator for innovation and quality, and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), which put him in a leadership role on many value-based care initiatives. As the most senior non-political appointee at the agency, he served as acting administrator during the early days of the Trump administration. He’s also been elected to the National Academy of Medicine’s Institute of Medicine.

Outside of government work, Conway has served as director of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a consultant with McKinsey. He received his bachelor’s degree in genetics from Texas A&M University, his MD from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his residency in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School's Children's Hospital Boston. His MSc degree is health services research and health policy was earned at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Blue Cross NC’s role in transforming the health care system in North Carolina is a model that other plans aspire to and that I want to work with the Blue Cross NC team to further improve,” Conway said. “I look forward to collaborating with Blue Cross NC employees, health care providers and employers to deliver the best health outcomes and best service experience at the lowest cost for our customers.”

Conway will begin with Blue Cross on Oct. 1, with current president and CEO Brad Wilson staying on “for an appropriate period to ensure an effective transition.”

Blue Cross NC has around 4,800 employees and 3.9 million members in the states. Its the only insurer in which offered coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges for all counties in the state in 2017 and plans to do so again in 2018, after Wilson had hinted at scaling back participation. It had initially offered two separate requests for premium increases: a 8.8 percent average hike if the Trump administration maintained cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies and a 22.9 percent increase if it doesn’t. The insurer lowered the no-CSR rate request to 14.1 percent on Aug. 2.

The company didn’t specify the total compensation for Conway. According to the Charlotte News Observer, Wilson was paid $3.5 million in 2016.