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Mountain States Health Alliance names new CEO

Staff Report • Aug 19, 2013 at 9:46 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Alan Levine has been named president and chief executive officer of Mountain States Health Alliance effective Jan. 6, 2014. The announcement was made by the MSHA board of directors Monday.

Levine will succeed Dennis Vonderfecht upon his retirement at the end of 2013.

“I am truly excited about the future of Mountain States under Alan’s leadership,” said Clem Wilkes, chairman of the MSHA board of directors. “Alan embodies the MSHA culture of bringing loving care to health care, and the board is certain he’ll do very well in this environment. This was a very deliberative process, with a large number of people participating, and Alan will arrive with the strong support of the Board and those who got to know him in the process.”

Levine, 46, will join MSHA after more than 20 years in hospital operations and in public service. Having led large, complex, multi-hospital organizations as well as leading two state health systems as the senior regulator and health policy adviser to two governors, Levine is uniquely qualified to lead MSHA through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the health care system.

“The people of Mountain States Health Alliance are wonderful, caring, compassionate and highly skilled, and I could not be more enthusiastic about joining their team,” Levine said. “Mountain States has earned a national reputation for quality and excellence, and our focus will always remain on making sure our patients come first, and that we are the place where our physicians always want to care for their patients.”

Prior to his current role as group president overseeing the operations of more than 40 hospitals and their affiliated services for Health Management Associates, Levine served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and senior health policy adviser to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, where he oversaw the state’s Medicaid program and led the state’s health care system through two major hurricanes, the pandemic flu, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, major health care reform and the restructuring of the state’s charity hospital system. In partnership with the attorney general of Louisiana, Levine also led a major and successful effort to crack down on fraud in the Medicaid program.

Prior to his service in Louisiana, and prior to his service as president of one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit public hospital systems, Levine served as deputy chief of staff and senior health policy adviser to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush before being appointed by Gov. Bush to serve as secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, the state’s regulatory and Health Policy agency with a budget of more than $17 billion.

In addition to overseeing one of the nation’s largest Medicaid programs, Levine led Florida’s health-care system through eight major hurricanes making landfall, sought and received federal and legislative approval for the most sweeping Medicaid reforms in the nation, and was one of the first health secretaries in the nation to publish hospital cost and quality outcomes for consumers. His efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program led to recognition for his Agency by Florida TaxWatch.

“Alan’s understanding of all the complex moving parts of the health-care system, combined with his intricate knowledge of multi-hospital operations, positions him well to navigate the challenges of health care reform,” said Wilkes. “Alan stands out as someone who can help us forge a strong direction in this new era of uncertainty for our industry.”

Vonderfecht said he feels confident handing over the reins to his successor at the end of his 24-year tenure with MSHA.

“Alan is known in the industry to be a man of integrity, and I believe his personal values are very much in line with the values of our organization,” Vonderfecht said. “His background and experience in a wide variety of challenging positions will be a benefit to Mountain States. He has led not-for-profit, public and investor-owned organizations, and he understands health care policy. Most importantly, he appreciates what has been accomplished by our team here, and how well positioned we are as a result of the hard work that has been done. He has a deep affinity for the region and is a great fit for the community.”

Levine, in accepting the position, was quick to point out the success of the retiring leader of Mountain States.“Few health systems can say they have had a tremendous leader for more than 20 years,” Levine said. “First and foremost, this is a testament to the governance of the board. But it speaks to the commitment Dennis has for the people and institutions that make up Mountain States Health Alliance. Following such a great leader will be a challenge and also an honor.

“Dennis did what leaders do. He assembled a great team, provided a vision, and never lost his focus on seeking to make Mountain States the best it can be. Most impressive to me, however, is that when I congratulated him for his work here, he gave all credit to the team members who make up MSHA. That’s the sign of a great leader.”

Levine describes his leadership style as “very communicative,” and said he plans to “listen and learn.” While he will officially begin his role in January 2014, Levine plans to coordinate the transition with Vonderfecht in the months leading up to his commencement as president and CEO.

“It is important there be only one CEO, and Dennis is the guy until Jan. 6,” said Levine.

With regard to his overall philosophy, Levine said, “Without our doctors and our team members, our hospitals are nothing but bricks and mortar. Our work is all about people, and that should always be our priority. I want to engage with our board, our doctors and our staff so we can continue to be the region’s highest quality and most trusted health-care organization. I plan to talk to patients and their families so I can gauge their perspective, and most definitely will develop close relationships with our doctors. We truly need each other if we are going to be as good as the board demands we be, and the public expects us to be.”

Levine earned a bachelor’s degree in health education from the University of Florida and master’s degrees in business administration and health administration from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Laura, a nurse, enjoy hiking, camping and snow skiing, and spending time with their 26-year-old son, Terry, and their 23-year-old daughter, Katy.

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