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Karen Ignagni's big challenge is to turn around EmblemHealth's financial health

EmblemHealth will remain as nonprofit health plan

After almost a month in her new job as head of New York nonprofit insurer EmblemHealth, Karen Ignagni says she has shifted gears and is embracing the new challenges that come with actually running a health insurance plan.

In an interview with Crain's New York Business, Ignagni--who shocked Washington and the insurance industry when she announced in May she was leaving her job as head of America's Health Insurance Plans--talked about her new job with EmblemHealth, where she took over as president and CEO Sept. 1. It's a move that has taken her from being one of the country's most powerful lobbyists to leading the Manhattan-based insurer that has about 3.2 million members in New York state.

Ignagni said EmblemHealth's board has clearly decided that the company will remain a nonprofit insurer and will continue its mission of providing affordable coverage.

Her first challenge is turning around EmblemHealth's recent unprofitable status, since its subsidiaries Group Health Inc. and HIP Health Plan of New York, reported combined loses of $40 million in the first quarter, following a drop of $494 million in 2014 on $7 billion in revenue, Crain's reported. In sharp contrast, both were profitable from 2010 to 2013, with combined net income averaging $152 million, noted Crain's

Ignagni also said that since day one, she confronted issues facing the company with its employees.

She admits EmblemHealth's turnaround will include "right-sizing" the workforce and looking at restructuring its corporate management structure. She also expects to set up new contracts with hospitals with quality and performance standards, work with physicians on paying for value, and look at how to structure benefits, she told Crain's

To learn more:
- Read the interview

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