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Killingsworth Resigns from BCBS of MA

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, March 15, 2010

Cleve Killingsworth, who has led Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts since 2004, is leaving the insurer effective immediately.

The insurer's board accepted Killingsworth's resignation, but the president and CEO "will remain available to the company as needed to ensure a smooth transition," according to BCBSMA.

Killingsworth joined BCBSMA as president and COO in 2004 after leading Health Alliance Plan in Detroit. He was named CEO at BCBSMA in 2005.

In a prepared statement, Killingsworth said, "It's been an honor and privilege to work with such a talented group of people who are deeply committed to improving the quality and affordability of health care," Killingsworth said. "I look forward now to moving the discussion of quality and affordability to a national level, where I believe my experience can be of value."

Under Killingsworth, BCBSMA has been a leader in Alternative Quality Contracts (AQC). HealthLeaders magazine recognized him in HealthLeaders 20, which is the magazine's annual list of 20 people who make healthcare better, in the December 2009 issue. (To hear Killingsworth talk about AQC, listen to this audio feature.)

In an interview with HealthLeaders at that time, Killingsworth talked about creating a payment model so insurers pay for high-quality effective care. He said the idea is to build a new set of incentives based on eliminating clinical waste, but also retargeting goals.

"The whole idea of switching process measures out for outcomes measures was a new idea for targets under the incentive program," he said.

BCBS of MA's AQC combines two forms of payment. The first is a global, or fixed, payment per patient adjusted for health status and performance incentives tied to the latest nationally accepted measures of quality, effectiveness, and patient experience. That's combined with performance incentives based on quality and safety metrics.

"What we're doing here is starting at levels doctors and hospitals have already achieved and extended that level in the AQC environment. We're not taking money out of their pockets to get this done," Killingsworth said at the time.

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