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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:
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.
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