NJBIZ reveals Power 50 Health Care (slideshow)
Bob Marino, the chairman, CEO and president of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, was virtually a unanimous selection for the top spot on the NJBIZ Power 50 Health Care list by the dozens of industry power players we interviewed.
Horizon's OMNIA alliance and insurance plan has been the talk of the industry for months. No matter which side of the controversy you are on, there's no debating its impact. “Nothing in the recent history of health care in the state has been as disruptive as what Horizon did,” one insider said.
The insurance plan has spurred numerous lawsuits (and countersuits), legislation, advertising campaigns and public relations protests. Some feel the fight has overshadowed the facts. After all, similar-type plans have been introduced, just not by the company that is, by far, the state's largest insurer.
“Everything in New Jersey always comes down to acting like a school board meeting; the audience with pitchforks and torches,” another insider said. “This is a school board meeting on steroids. People are acting beyond irrational.”
All for a plan proponents embrace as the future — and give Marino credit for having the temerity to introduce.
“At this point in his career, he didn't have to do this,” one admirer said. “He could've just ridden (his time as CEO) out. For better or for worse, everyone is talking about him. It's an indication that he is on to something.
“Society needs people like him; they need people to take risks. If everybody plays close to the vest, you are never going to solve anything. He's at a point in his career where he could've spent the next five years just making sure people were insured; instead he planted a flag. He could be a model nationally. I don't want to be dramatic, but it's Obama-esque. He mortgaged his place in history on this; he went all in on this.”
No one disputes the fact Marino is as honest, hardworking and decent an individual as there is in business in the state. “He's an extraordinarily nice man and a remarkably quiet man,” said one.
Those who know him well say he has been stunned by some of the backlash. But they also say Marino is just as determined to push forward, just as confident he is doing the right thing — providing a new course for an industry that needs one.
“It's easy to criticize (the rollout), but no one else was coming to the table with a solution,” another insider said. “I'm not telling you OMNIA is perfect, but they deserve a lot of credit for coming out with something that is very creative. I think it will continue to evolve and get better.”
Early opinions from the courts appear to show Horizon is on the right side of the fight. The mess, however, doesn't appear to be getting cleaned up anytime soon. Some will say that just comes with the territory when you make such a bold move: “To make an omelet, you've got to break some eggs.”
How important is health care to the economy of New Jersey?
Consider these stats from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development:
- It is roughly 7 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, contributing nearly $35 billion in 2012, which was the last year statistics were available.
- It has contributed approximately 200,000 jobs since 1990, more than double the total of all private sector employment.
- It paid employees in the sector more than $23 billion in 2013, or more than 12 percent of all wages paid.
So, it only goes to figure that NJBIZ would identify the top players in this top sector of that industry.
In the slideshow above, we'll detail our 50 selections in an effort to show how the person (or the company or the trend) is impacting this powerful part of our economy.