Health Care Service Corp shakes up C-suite, names new COO

Health Care Service Corp. is making big changes to its senior leadership team.

Opella Ernest, MD, will leave her role as COO and become executive vice president of HCSC commercial markets, effective immediately, according to a March 31 news release from the payer.

Dr. Ernest will be responsible for the company's Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas along with national account growth, clinical and pharmacy operations and analytics. She first joined the company in 2012 and has served as senior vice president and chief clinical officer, divisional senior vice president and chief medical officer of BCBS Illinois. 

Dr. Ernest succeeds Jeff Tikkanen, who will advise on market initiatives before his retirement in 2023.

Mike Frank will leave his role as senior vice president of pharmacy and ancillary business and has been named senior vice president and COO. 

Mr. Frank will lead the company's IT and customer service organizations. He joined the company in 2013 and has served as president of its Montana plan, chief legal and operations officer, chief administrative officer, vice president of corporate integrity and human resources and vice president of compliance and ethics.

Dr. Ernest and Mr. Frank will report to Maurice Smith, Health Care Service Corp. president and CEO.

"As our strategic priorities evolve, so does our organizational structure," Mr. Smith said. "Our continued focus on building our leadership bench strength allows us to continue to execute on our strategy  —  to expand healthcare access, to deepen relationships in our communities and to advance our mission and commitments to remain the health coverage partner of choice for our stakeholders. HCSC has an action-oriented leadership team that is a result of a long-standing focus on attracting and growing top talent."

The Chicago-based payer has more than 17 million members in its Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

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