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Blues CFO Duda plans to retire this year

Rochester Business Journal
July 21, 2011

Longtime Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield chief financial officer Emil Duda plans to retire at the end of this year, Excellus officials said Thursday.

A 39-year veteran of the Blues, Duda, who is known as Zeke, has overseen the non-profit health insurer’s finances as it grew from a Rochester-area Blue Cross plan to a $5.2 billion company that is the state’s largest non-profit health insurer and its second-largest health insurance carrier.

“A series of successful mergers and acquisitions in both the core health plan business and the growing, for-profit long-term care insurance business simply could not have been accomplished without (Duda’s) enormous talents and insights,” Excellus CEO David Klein said in a statement.  

Beginning under Klein’s predecessor former Excellus CEO Howard Berman in the mid-1990s, the Rochester Blues expanded into Central New York and the state’s North Country in mergers with the Syracuse and Utica-Watertown Blues.

Shortly after absorbing those organizations, Excellus expanded into Western New York with a takeover of the non-profit Univera HMO. It also bought a for-profit Maryland insurance-company’s shell and used it to build a national long-term-care insurance company, MedAmerica Inc.

Other acquisitions completed on Duda’s watch were:

  • Lifetime Care, the Rochester area’s largest non-profit Medicare-certified home-care agency;
  • EBS-RMSCO Inc., a for-profit employee benefits company with offices in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse;
  • Support Services Alliance Inc., a Schenectady-based for-profit firm that does group-purchasing of health insurance for small businesses; and
  • Lifetime Health Medical Group, a multispecialty physician group practice operating out of seven Rochester-area locations and four in the Buffalo area.

Also accomplished during Duda’s tenure was the formation of Lifetime Healthcare Cos. Inc. A holding company, which Klein also heads and Duda serves as CFO, Lifetime Healthcare is  Cos. is parent to the Excellus health plans and its non-profit and for-profit sister companies.

As CFO, Duda manages a hefty investment portfolio that has in several years kept the sprawling Lifetime Healthcare-Excellus organization in the black despite losses as high as $15 million on the health insurance business, Excellus Health Plan Inc.’s, operations.

“I’m very proud to have played a role in building a small health plan serving the local Rochester area into a much larger mission-oriented enterprise,” Duda said in a statement. 

Duda was also a central figure in a long-running dispute between Excellus and the Rochester Community Individual Practice Association Inc., a physician group that accused Excellus of shorting its doctors on fees. After a 10-year court fight, the case ended with an out-of-court settlement that brought Excellus’ total payout to the doctors to more than $50 million. 
(c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail

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