CareFirst Appoints New Board Chairs, Members

Baltimore, MD (February 07, 2013) - CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) today announced that Linda W. Cropp has replaced Michael R. Merson as chair of its parent company, CareFirst Inc. (CFI). Cropp, formerly chair of the Council of the District of Columbia, has been a CFI board member since 2011 and joined the board of Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (GHMSI), CareFirst’s National Capital Area subsidiary, in 2006.

Merson, who held positions as president and CEO of Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore and Columbia-based Helix Health Inc. and MedStar Health, retired after nine years as CareFirst’s chairman.

The change at the top of CareFirst’s board structure is one of several the company made to begin 2013, due to term limits of retiring board members. Joseph G. Hall, vice president of Goldman Sachs & Co. in Washington, D.C., has also replaced Michael J. Kelly as chair of CareFirst of Maryland Inc. (CFMI), the company’s Maryland affiliate. Hall has been a CFMI board member since 2006. Kelly, formerly dean of the University of Maryland School of Law, retired after serving as CFMI’s board chairman since 2007.

“Michael Merson and Michael Kelly have contributed outstanding leadership for our boards and will be greatly missed,” said Chet Burrell, CareFirst President and CEO. “While key leadership positions are changing, we are fortunate to have Linda Cropp and Joseph Hall’s knowledge and experience leading the CFI and CFMI boards during this transition.”

Robert W. Willis also left his positions on the GHMSI and CFI boards. Willis, who is president and CEO of McCarran Ferguson Captive Management Co. Inc. in Washington, D.C., retired after serving nine years on the GHMSI board and seven years on the CFI board.

New board members include:

  • David S. Blitzstein (CFMI), Special Assistant for Multi-Employer Funds, United Food & Commercial Workers International Union;
  • Artis G. Hampshire-Cowan (CFI and GHMSI), Senior Vice President, Howard University; and
  • Stephen L. Waechter (CFMI), CFO, ARINC Inc.

“Knowledgeable board members play a key role in helping CareFirst fulfill its mission of providing access to affordable health care coverage to residents of our region,” Burrell said. “The new board members bring an impressive array of skills and professional experiences to CareFirst, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come.”

All board changes were effective Dec. 31, 2012. The board members represent a wide range of professions, including patient care, finance and community health services.

About CareFirst

In its 76th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2012, CareFirst contributed $57 million to community programs designed to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter: