Q&A: Kaiser Permanente CEO Halvorson on Retirement

Cheryl Clark, October 5, 2012

Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO George Halvorson says he'll retire from "the best job in healthcare on the planet" in December 2013

For 10 years, Halvorson has been the chief of two companies—the nation's largest nonprofit health plan and a health system with 37 hospitals and 600 medical offices—which bring $50 billion in annual revenue from nine million enrollees in nine states. He has been among the highest paid health care executives, earning $7.7 million in 2010, according to a Kaiser spokeswoman.

George Halvorson

Halvorson says the job has been "challenging."

"I love it, but it's time," he says. He'll be 67 in January, 2014, and wants to spend more time with his family at his Sausalito home, to "fish and boat" and to hear his five grandchildren call for their "Grandpa."

He also has two books he wants to write. And Halvorson is excited about his plan for a coaching initiative to help companies ­­of all kinds increase the number of minorities in leadership roles.

Kaiser Permanente's vertically integrated care model was a template for many provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under Halvorson's leadership, major quality initiatives produced dramatically better outcomes than the rest of the country's average, and lawmakers tried to model a system that could replicate that achievement, he says.

He gave his board 14 months notice in order to find his replacement and smooth the transition.

In an interview Thursday, Halvorson shared his thoughts on Kaiser Permanente and the challenges for healthcare reform and for his successor.

HLM:  Why do you think it's time now?

GH: When I joined Kaiser, I was 55 years old and I said to the board I would work for a decade. I wanted to retire at 65. But there are so many things in transition in healthcare right now, I thought leaving now would be premature. I agreed to stay on through some transition as we try to get the new exchanges and marketing environment set up.


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