Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crain's 2008 Newsmaker of the Year:
Daniel Loepp, CEO Of BCBS Michigan

Story from Crain's Detroit Business

As a former Lansing insider, Daniel Loepp, now CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, must have been disappointed that a handful of Republican state legislators stymied Blue Cross’ 14-month effort to pass two bills to reform the individual health insurance market.

After a session that began Dec. 18 and lasted into the wee hours of Dec. 19, legislators failed to come up with a compromise on a controversial set of bills to reform the individual market.

The two bills, substitute House Bills 5282 and 5283, died. Legislative leaders promised to address what many consider to be a broken individual market in the 2009 session, which begins this month.

It was a bitter defeat for Loepp, Blue Cross’ CEO since July 2005, when he succeeded Richard Whitmer, who retired after leading the company for 18 years.

Earlier in his career, Loepp served as chief of staff for Michigan Speaker of the House Curtis Hertel and director of communication for Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley.

Detroit native and Wayne State University-educated Loepp, who went to Blue Cross in 2000 as vice president of governmental affairs, passionately believes that Blue Cross stands alone against a herd of hungry, for-profit health insurers.

He charges these insurers are “cherry-picking” healthy people for coverage while sending the sickest and costliest people to Blue Cross. As a result, he says, Blue Cross is losing millions of dollars.

Loepp also has argued that Michigan needs a wide range of consumer protections that will benefit thousands of individuals, especially the sick, women and the elderly. He also believes Blue Cross needs regulatory reform to shorten the time it now takes for proposed rate increases to take effect.

Commercial carriers and other nonprofit health insurers, such as Health Alliance Plan or Priority Health, do not have to go through a public process as the Blues does to increase rates.

Look for the Blues to take another crack at the legislative process this year.

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