Dr. John D. Bennett Jr., chairman of the board of directors of the Capital District Physicians Health Plan, will replace Dr. William J. Cromie as the organization’s president and chief executive officer, the company announced Tuesday.
Bennett will take over July 1 for Cromie, who announced in March he would step down for health reasons.
“Our board of directors has made a great selection,” Cromie said in a prepared statement. “Dr. Bennett’s experience as our board chairman, management in his own medical practice and more than two decades as a local cardiologist allow him to understand the needs of the plan and those of the local physician community.”
Board vice chairman Peter Burkhart of New York Oncology and Hematology will serve as the interim chairman once Bennett officially becomes CEO. The board will then investigate naming a new member at a later date, company spokeswoman Ellen Boyle said.
A practicing cardiologist in the Albany area since 1983, Bennett now practices with Albany Associates in Cardiology, a division of Prime Care Physicians, and was named interim CEO of Prime Care in November. Bennett is chief of the division of cardiology at Albany Memorial Hospital and has been a member of the CDPHP board since 1996 and its chairman since September 2003.
Cromie, a founding board member of CDPHP in 1984, was named CEO after Diane Bergman abruptly resigned in 2001. Under his leadership, the organization experienced a pronounced spate of growth, including a nearly 14 percent increase in membership.
Cromie is often credited for helping CDPHP grow from a health maintenance organization into a full health plan. He helped the state health insurance industry adjust to the digital age by overseeing a $4.5 million investment in electronic medical record systems, interoperability and education initiatives.
Bennett said he plans to uphold Cromie’s legacy once he takes office. He said Cromie’s leadership over the years has left him with a good model to operate the company into the future.
“I have worked closely with Dr. Cromie for the past seven years to help transform CDPHP from a traditional health insurance company into a health value company that focuses on improving care while reducing costs. I look forward to the exciting challenges that this position will offer while continuing to pursue this mission,” he said Tuesday.
Bennett said the coming years will be challenging in the health insurance provider industry, especially given the escalating cost of care. He said challenges in the coming years include determining methods to measure the quality of care, finding ways to ensure patients are involved in their care and continuing to limit the ranks of the uninsured.
“We face these great challenges in health care today, which makes this job a challenge and exciting,” he said.