Healthcare >> CEO Interviews >> September 13, 2002

S.bablitch/m.bernstein – Cobalt Corporation (cbz)

STEPHEN E. BABLITCH joined Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin ('Blue Cross') and United Wisconsin Services, Inc. ('UWS') in 1996 as General Counsel and Vice President. He became General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Cobalt Corporation when UWS combined with Blue Cross in 2001. Since August 2000, Mr. Bablitch has been responsible for overseeing four medical group business units, the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Blue Cross and two of the Company's HMOs, Unity Health Plans Insurance Corporation (Madison) and Valley Health Plan, Inc. (Eau Claire). In 1999, Mr. Bablitch was assigned the responsibility of leading the conversion of Blue Cross from a not-for-profit company to a shareholder-owned insurer and then merging Blue Cross with UWS. The conversion and merger were completed in August of 2001. Cobalt Corporation is now one of three publicly traded Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in the nation. From 1991 to 1996, Mr. Bablitch was a partner in the law firm of DeWitt, Ross & Stevens in Madison, Wisconsin, where Blue Cross was one of his principal clients. Mr. Bablitch began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, working under James E. Doyle, now Wisconsin's Attorney General. In 1986, then-Governor Tommy Thompson appointed Mr. Bablitch to head Wisconsin's correctional system, the state's single largest state agency. Mr. Bablitch served in Governor Thompson's cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Corrections until 1991. Mr. Bablitch graduated from the University of Wisconsin'Madison with distinction in 1976. Mr. Bablitch attended the University of Wisconsin'Madison law school and received his Juris Doctor (JD) in 1979. Mr. Bablitch currently serves on the following boards: The Board of Directors of HospiceCare of Dane and Rock Counties; The Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy'Wisconsin Chapter; and The University of Wisconsin Law School-Remington Center Board of Directors. Profile
MICHAEL E. BERNSTEIN is Executive Vice President of Cobalt Corporation. He is also President of CompcareBlue, an HMO subsidiary of Cobalt Corporation. As part of leadership changes announced at the annual shareholders meeting in May 2002, Bernstein will be named President and Chief Operating Officer of Cobalt Corporation following the retirement of the current CEO and Chairman, Thomas R. Hefty. That retirement will occur by the end of 2002.Bernstein has been with Cobalt and its predecessor company since 1987, when he was first employed as a corporate staff attorney for Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin (BCBSUW). Early in his career, Bernstein supervised the operations of the Compcare HMO and network management for both Compcare and BCBSUW. He oversaw the acquisitions of the Valley Health Plan in Eau Claire and Unity Health Plan in Madison. In 2001, he was assigned the responsibility for turning around the company's health insurance operations in its largest market, metro Milwaukee. As President of CompcareBlue, Bernstein has overseen an aggressive reorganization of the HMO resulting in a smaller but healthier company. He recently assumed responsibility for the Blue Cross business in metro Milwaukee, as well. Bernstein left BCBSUW in the mid-1990s to become Senior Vice President for University Health Care in Madison, Wisconsin. While associated with UW Health, Bernstein helped negotiate and complete the merger of two of the largest medical groups in the state. He was named Executive Vice President of UW Medical Foundation in 1998, the largest Medical Group Practice in Wisconsin and one of the top 10 clinics in the country. He left UWMF in early 2000 to assist in the successful completion of the conversion of BCBSUW to a for-profit entity and merger of that company with United Wisconsin Services, Inc. Bernstein currently serves on the Boards of Make-a-Wish Foundation and the University of Virginia Health Services Foundation. Bernstein was educated at the University of California, Davis and earned his law degree at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif. Profile
TWST: Can you begin with an overview of what Cobalt Corporation does?

Mr. Bablitch: Cobalt is one of the three publicly traded Blue Cross &

Blue Shield plans in the country. We are in