William Winkenwerder, M.D. will be the new president and CEO of Highmark starting in July. Winkenwerder was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs from 2001 to 2007, where he led the Military Health System's 132,000 personnel and served as the principal medical advisor to Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates. Most recently, he founded and led a health care consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia.
"I'm looking forward to joining a great company that's got a proud tradition and wonderful past that has, in the current environment, become a leader, not only in the region, but in the United States in delivering healthcare services," said Winkenwerder.
He said he knows the job doesn't come without challenges, though. He cited the relationship between Highmark and UPMC and the pending engagement with West Penn Allegheny Health Systems as issues he'll face.
"And there's health care reform, and we don't know exactly which direction that might take depending on where the Supreme Court goes with its decision, so lots of moving parts, a challenging situation, but I look forward to taking that on," said Winkenwerder.
Winkenwerder is a graduate of Davidson College, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1976, and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1981. He also received a graduate degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1986. He is board certified in internal medicine and practiced primary care for several years.
Winkenwerder replaces Ken Melani, who was fired in April after fighting with the husband of an employee with whom he was having an affair.
Highmark is the largest insurance provider in Pennsylvania.