New President At Premera Alaska Will Be Based In Seattle

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska has a new president. Jim Grazko is replacing Jeff Davis, who held the job for 17 years and is retiring at the end of June. Premera Alaska is the largest health insurer in the state, serving more than 100,000 customers.

Davis lived in Anchorage and was actively engaged in health care issues in the community, serving on several boards. Grazko will be based in Seattle and the company says he isn’t likely to have the same public presence in the state as Davis. Eric Earling is Vice President of Corporate Communications for Premera. He says Grazko will travel to Alaska frequently and if anything, he expects an increased focus on the market in the state:

“I wouldn’t put the expectation that because there’s a change in one position that there is a substantive impact in how we serve the market as a whole. I think a number of members of our team are going to be collectively more active in Alaska than they may have been in the past because of some things we want to do to serve the market better, regardless of who holds the title of President of Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska.”

Earling says the biggest issue Grazko will face is the rising cost of medical care in Alaska and the impact that has on health care coverage.

Grazko has been with Premera since 1999 and was previously vice president for underwriting at the company. Lon Wilson is President and CEO of the Wilson Agency, a brokerage firm that works closely with Premera. Wilson says he knows both Davis and Grazko well and he thinks the change is a positive one:

“We’re losing somebody in Jeff Davis who spent many many years here in Alaska and knew the market really well. We’re also gaining somebody who has been with Premera for 15 plus years and knows the company very well and is very knowledgeable about the business in Alaska even though he hasn’t physically been here.”

Premera has 35 employees in Alaska. The company doesn’t expect to make any other changes at the Alaska office.

This story is part of a reporting partnership between APRN, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie