David Cordani, chief executive officer of Cigna Corp., poses for a photograph (Photo: Simon Dawson/BB) David Cordani (Photo: Simon Dawson/BB)

The board of America’s Health Insurance Plans says David Cordani — the leader of a big, for-profit health insurer — has been elected to serve as the group’s next board chair.

Cordani, the chief executive officer of Cigna Corp., will take over from Bernard Tyson as the AHIP board chair in January 2019, AHIP says.

(Related: Cigna to Buy Express Scripts as Health Shakeout Speeds Up)

Tyson is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit health insurer.

The AHIP board also said that Ken Burdick, the CEO of WellCare Health Plans Inc., a for-profit carrier in the Medicare and Medicaid plan markets, will be the AHIP board chair-elect in 2019.

AHIP is preparing to start its annual AHIP Institute conference in San Diego on Wednesday.

(Related: Health Insurers Mount Major Defense of ‘Coverage at Work’)

Cigna and WellCare are two of the biggest commercial health insurers that still belong to AHIP.

  • UnitedHealth Group Inc. announced its departure from the group in 2015.
  • Aetna Inc. dropped out in 2017.
  • Humana Inc. dropped out earlier this year.
  • CareFirst Inc. —  a large, nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier — also dropped out earlier this year.

Anthem Inc., a for-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier, still belongs to AHIP.

The AHIP board recently named Matt Eyles to succeed Marilyn Tavenner as the group’s president and CEO.

Eyles said in a statement that Cordani and Burdick share Tyson’s commitment to finding new solutions that improve health coverage, and health care, affordability, value and access.

“We are grateful for Bernard’s continuing and exceptional leadership, and we look forward to David and Ken leading our industry and helping navigate the rapidly changing U.S. health care system to ensure we deliver care for all Americans,” Eyles said.

Cordani said in a statement that members of the AHIP team will “take action to advance solutions and private-sector innovations that improve the health and financial security of America’s families, businesses and communities.”

Burdick said in his statement that health insurers will “continue to work in partnership across the public and private sectors” to improve patient health care experiences.

Insurers v. Drug Makers

AHIP has been battling pharmaceutical manufacturers over government policies related to prescription drug prices for years.

Cordani, the incoming 2019 board chair, may be in a good position to weigh in on prescription drug price policy: His company is acquiring Express Scripts Inc., a major pharmacy benefits manager.

Express Scripts has been bargaining hard with the drug manufacturers, and, at the same time, facing accusations it may be keeping a higher percentage of the negotiated discounts than customers realize.

Cordani may also have a deeper understanding of how investors on Wall Street see health insurers, because of his position as  the head of a company with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, and earnings releases that face the scrutiny of securities analysts every three months.

— Read Maybe Traditional Medicare Should Cover Chronic Care, Too: Hearing Witnesseson ThinkAdvisor.

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