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Harvard Pilgrim CEO Eric Schultz resigns, citing behavior inconsistent with core values

The insurer is releasing little information as it names a new president.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

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Boston-area insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has named Michael Carson president and head of the company's daily operations after the board of directors accepted the hasty resignation of CEO Eric H. Schultz on June 12.

Schultz, who was CEO and president, submitted his resignation effective immediately for what he said was exhibiting behavior that he recognized was inconsistent with his values and those of the company.

In a letter to the board of directors and employees at Harvard Pilgrim, Schultz wrote on June 12, "It's with mixed emotions that I inform you that today will be my last day as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and chair of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. Regrettably, I recently exhibited behavior that was inconsistent with my personal core values and the company's core values and code of conduct. During the past eight years as your leader, I was committed to fostering a workplace culture that was inclusive, welcoming and rooted in integrity and respect. I made mistakes, and I'm truly sorry."  

Neither Schultz, nor Harvard Pilgrim, has released further information on their CEO's sudden departure. On the same day, the board named Carson to lead the company.

Carson is a seasoned healthcare executive who joined Harvard Pilgrim in 2017 as chief business growth officer.  He previously served as chief operating officer at ConcertoHealth, a multi-state medical group, where he was responsible for the company's financial performance, including care delivery, clinical operations, growth and health plan delegated utilization, care, quality and revenue management. He has also served as president of Anthem's Eastern Region Medicare business with responsibility for a multi-product portfolio and eight health plans in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

Schultz said he was proud of Harvard Pilgrim's many significant accomplishments, including its expansion into Connecticut and its Medicare Advantage program. 

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, which was chaired by Schultz, is among organizations addressing the social determinants of health in working with low- and moderate-income families to gain greater access to fresh, affordable food.

But the insurer has suffered millions in financial losses since 2015, citing increased costs due partly to higher risk enrollees in its Affordable Care Act plans.

Harvard Pilgrim's Board of Directors said it plans to name a board member to help facilitate key external relations during this period of transition.                                             

In May, Partners HealthCare, also centered in Boston, confirmed it was in talks with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care on a potential collaboration to work together. The move would further expand Partners northward into neighboring New Hampshire, and would create one of the largest, integrated provider and payer networks in the region.

In 2015, Harvard Pilgrim, a not-for-profit health services company founded by doctors, joined forces with New Hampshire hospitals Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Elliot Health System and Frisbie Memorial to create analytics company Benevera Health. Benevera has since expanded to include St. Joseph Hospital, which is also located in New Hampshire.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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