The head of one of the Capital Region’s leading health insurers is stepping down due to health reasons.
The Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan announced Friday that Dr. William Cromie plans to resign as the insurer’s president and chief executive officer.
The 65-year-old executive, who took the helm at CDPHP seven years ago, will remain with the company as its board searches for a successor.
“[Cromie] has assembled a top-notch executive management team that will help him lead this company forward during the CEO recruitment process. I know Bill will use that same fight and determination he is known for in leading CDPHP to tackle head-on the health challenges he faces now,” CDPHP Chairman Dr. John Bennett said in a statement.
CDPHP Vice President of Public Affairs John Demerse said “It’s a very serious illness and we’re not disclosing what it is.”
In 2001, CDPHP tapped Cromie to succeed Diane Bergman, who resigned abruptly after eight years.
That move brought Cromie back to Albany, which he left in 1994 to serve as the vice chairman of the surgery department at the University of Chicago. He also served as a university professor of surgery and pediatrics.
At CDPHP, Cromie heads a company that employs 804, of which 696 work at its Patroon Creek Boulevard headquarters. He joined the company shortly after the insurer consolidated three Albany County offices into a new 180,000-square-foot building in the Patroon Creek Office Park, near the Harriman State Office Campus.
During Cromie’s tenure at CDPHP, the insurer’s membership grew almost 14 percent to 402,388 by the end of September.
CDPHP’s 1999 acquisition of Kaiser Permanente’s Northeast business prompted the move to Patroon Creek. Kaiser added 270,000 members to CDPHP’s ranks and brought the insurer’s coverage area from 11 to 28 counties.
“He’s taken this company and really moved it in a really positive direction,” Demerse said of Cromie.
Demerse said Cromie turned CDPHP into more than just a health maintenance organization — it is now a full health plan. Along with an HMO, CDPHP has exclusive provider and preferred provider organization products.
Leslie Moran, president of the New York Health Plan Association, said Cromie has played an important role in helping the state health insurance industry adjust to the digital age.
Over the last three years, CDPHP has spent $4.5 million on electronic medical record systems, interoperability and education initiatives and it plans to invest an additional $1 million for EMR adoption. Fifty-seven percent of the insurer’s medium and large practices with over five doctors use EMR systems.
News of Cromie’s resignation caught many Capital Region business and community leaders by surprise. Cromie, a Corinth native and avid mountain climber, has spearheaded a number of community initiatives wherever he has lived.
Along with being a founding board member of CDPHP in 1984, Cromie a decade earlier co-founded the nation’s first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. He also started a white water rafting company in the Adirondacks in 1979 and the Empire State Regatta in 1986.
In 1982, while working at Albany Medical Center, Cromie helped establish Albany’s Ronald McDonald House two doors down from his house on South Lake Avenue. When Cromie left Albany for Chicago, the nonprofit threw him a going-away party and gave him a plaque reading “The House that Bill Built.”
“He really put his whole life into this place. He was always a ray of sunshine,” said Debbie Ross, manager of the Albany Ronald McDonald House.
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