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Largest WV private health insurer names president

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Fred Earley II, 59, of Parkersburg is retiring as president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia on Nov.1, after seven years as president.

James L. Fawcett, 43, of Charleston has been appointed president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia, succeeding Earley, the company announced Wednesday.

Earley joined Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1989 and served Mountain State as senior vice president of external operations, general counsel and corporate secretary since 1995. Earley was appointed president of Highmark West Virginia in 2009.

Fawcett has worked at Highmark for 27 years, most recently serving as senior vice president of Medicaid markets in West Virginia and Delaware.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have led the state’s largest, private health insurer for the past seven years, and to have worked alongside so many talented and wonderful employees at Highmark West Virginia,” Earley said.

“Thanks to their hard work and dedication to our members, they helped Highmark West Virginia become the strong and viable company that it is today,” said Earley. “I am grateful for the opportunity to pass the knowledge I’ve learned from my predecessors, Thomas D. Farson and Gregory K. Smith, on to Jim Fawcett as he begins writing the next chapter of success for Highmark West Virginia.”

“Fred’s legacy is one of true commitment and dedication to not only the health and well-being of our members and employees, but also to the entire state of West Virginia, and he will be greatly missed,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, Highmark Health Plan president.

As president of Highmark, Earley has direct responsibility for sales, legal and regulatory affairs, external provider relations, provider contracting, planning and communications. He serves as a member of the board of directors for the West Virginia High Risk Pool, the West Virginia Health Information Network, the Parkersburg Area Roundtable, the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg and the Parkersburg YMCA. Earley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from West Virginia University and a law degree from The Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar.

Earley served as general counsel for Highmark for 20 years prior to being named president. In addition to his role as president of Highmark West Virginia, Earley also serves as president of Highmark Senior Solutions Company and West Virginia Family Health and is a member of the board of directors for Highmark West Virginia.

Among his many contributions, Earley has led the company through a time of unprecedented change in the health care industry, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in West Virginia, resulting in the formation of West Virginia Family Health, the company said.

Prior to this role, Fawcett served in a number of leadership positions with Highmark, including provider contracting and network management for Highmark’s West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware markets and senior vice president of sales and client management in Pennsylvania.

In these roles, he headed the transformation from traditional fee-for-service contracts to pay-for-value contracts that include Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes and other pay-for-value efforts, the company said.

Fawcett was responsible for the sales and client management teams’ activities covering more than 1.8 million Highmark members, the company said.

Fawcett holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, was a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and is a certified health care consultant. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh and is on the board for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Fawcett will be relocating to Parkersburg.

“Like Fred, Jim’s extensive knowledge of the health care industry, combined with his experience in sales, provider contracting and the Medicaid market, make him an ideal fit and well-positioned to lead Highmark West Virginia as its president,” said Rice-Johnson.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves around 290,000 members through the company’s health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program.

With offices in Parkersburg, Charleston and Wheeling, the company employs more than 750 people. The Parkersburg office has 600 employees. Highmark West Virginia is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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