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Power Lobbyist Ignani Caps 22-Year Washington Career

By Rebecca Adams, CQ Roll Call

May 21, 2015 -- When Karen Ignagni leaves her post as president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans to become the president and CEO of EmblemHealth in New York, it will be the first time in 22 years that she won't be a leading voice for health insurers in Washington.

Ignagni will be based in New York, where her adult son lives.

Dan Durham, who is currently AHIP’s executive vice president for strategic initiatives, will serve as AHIP’s interim CEO while the trade association looks for a successor.

Ignagni got attention more than two decades ago when she left the AFL-CIO labor union's employee benefits department to work for the health insurance industry as leader of the American Association of Health Plans, which was at the time one of two major health insurance trade groups. She served as president and CEO for a decade until 2003, when it merged with the other group, the Health Insurance Association of America, at the time led by former House Ways and Means Committee staffer Chip Kahn.

Ignagni remained at the combined trade group as major changes swept over the industry, including the passage of the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). She was one of several health industry leaders who supported the passage of the law but later had concerns about its implementation.

“As the voice of our industry, she has worked tirelessly on our behalf with acumen that is unmatched,” said America's Health Insurance Plans' Board Chairman Mark B. Ganz, CEO and President of Cambia Health Solutions in a statement.

Ignagni’s calm presence and constant advocacy of her industry improved the image of an industry that was derided in the 1990s, when health maintenance organizations were criticized for declining to cover some services.

“With tenacity, intellect and deep policy knowledge, she ensured our industry has a seat at all tables,” said Ganz. “Perhaps her greatest contributions have been highlighting the value and innovations of this industry.”

AHIP officials noted that Modern Healthcare magazine routinely ranks Ignagni on its list of the 100 most powerful people in health care.

Durham is one of several veteran officials who advised the industry during the rocky rollout of the health care law as new marketplaces opened in October 2013. Before assuming his current role, Durham was executive vice president for policy and regulatory affairs at AHIP.

Before joining AHIP, Durham was vice president for policy at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, where he guided the trade group on negotiations over the health care law and implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program. Dan also worked in senior positions at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget. He also worked in policy roles at the seniors’ lobbying organization AARP and the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

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