As the seasons change, Peak Health Alliance’s leadership is going through a transitional period, too. On May 1, Anne Ladd will step in as interim CEO to replace Claire Brockbank, who begins her new New York-based role one month later.
Last week, the organization announced that Brockbank accepted a new role with 32BJ Health Fund in New York. The company provides health benefits to about 200,000 members of a union that represents low-wage workers, like window washers and janitors, primarily in New York City.
“They found me because of the work Peak has done, and they said, ‘Can you do the same concept of what you’ve done in Colorado, where you use data and community organizing and direct negotiations with hospitals to try to lower our health care costs?’” Brockbank recalled.
In 2018, Brockbank helped found Peak Health Alliance, a local nonprofit health insurance purchasing alliance that negotiates lower insurance rates for Coloradans in rural areas. The organization got its start in Summit County and has spread to cover Dolores, Grand, Lake, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan and Park counties.
Looking back at her time with Peak Health, Brockbank said some of her proudest moments relate to launching the organization itself. In 2020, Peak Health began offering plans, and Brockbank said she was proud of showing national health insurance carriers that lower premiums could be achieved in rural communities.
One of the biggest lessons she learned during her time with Peak Health was flexibility, she said.
“In many of our communities, the hospitals really do want to work with us. I think we started off thinking that it would be hard to do it collaboratively — and it is hard to do it collaboratively — but if both parties really listen, I think one of the things that’s been important is we found there’s absolutely a way to do this where everybody benefits,” she said.
Ladd said she is planning to keep this lesson close as she moves into the CEO role starting May 1. Last fall during open enrollment season, Ladd said Brockbank had tapped her for extra help. Ladd began filling in for Brockbank and providing support as needed. It’s one of the reasons she was tapped to fill the interim CEO position. Even still, Ladd said she has a steep learning curve to deal with.
Ladd describes her background in health care as “a Swiss army knife.” She worked ??as the CEO of the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health before working for the Purchaser Business Group on Health, a coalition focused on improving health insurance efficiencies and cost savings for purchasers. She’s also worked for Kaiser Permanente and Anthem — which was then called Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado and New Mexico — as the director of strategic planning and market research.
“My experience is very broad,” Ladd said. “I’ve worked with health plans, I’ve worked with hospitals, I’ve worked with medical groups, and I’ve worked with employers and individuals trying to deal with health care costs. … Nobody knows all aspects of the health care elephant. It’s just too big and too complex, but I feel like I have a pretty rock-solid grounding in lots of areas.”
When she began assisting Brockbank, she said the more she learned about Peak Health, the more time she wanted to give to the organization.
While Ladd is currently based in Wyoming she’s already hit the ground running by visiting Summit County to meet with the board. In the near future, she plans to visit some of the other communities Peak Health serves because she wants to put faces to names.
“In Wyoming, we believe in the handshake,” she said.
Ladd will be in the pool of candidates in the running for the CEO role long-term. Brockbank said the job posting has already been shared with various industry groups. The hope is that the position is filled quickly, possibly within the next few months.
Because she’s currently serving in an interim capacity, Ladd said she’s not planning to make any dramatic changes. Instead, she said she will feel like she’s succeeding if there’s little to no disruptions with the changeover.
“The biggest compliment to me is if someone said to me we didn’t notice Claire’s departure too much,” Ladd said. “That would be the biggest compliment I would take away from this is that things went smoothly, things went well, things happened on time and that we just kept the wheels on the wagon.”
Though she’s moving into her new role come June 1, Brockbank will continue to help oversee negotiations with UCHealth about a new fee schedule in Routt County, which would be the ninth county Peak Health serves.