Illness Shouldn’t Divide Us, Blue Cross CEO Says

June 19, 2018

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Source: Boston Globe

As chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of MassachusettsAndrew Dreyfus is worried that Congress this summer may try to weaken Obamacare’s requirements for covering preexisting conditions. That’s why he’s in Washington for two days of meetings starting Tuesday.

He hopes to make the case to congressional leaders that they should fight to protect those rules.

“That was one of the most central promises from the Affordable Care Act,” Dreyfus says. “It is really surprising that it would be under threat again.”

Yes, Dreyfus runs a $7 billion-a-year business. But this business is also a nonprofit — and that means his health care advocacy doesn’t always focus on the bottom line. It’s also a big reason why his Blue Cross organization is involved with charities like Boston Health Care for the Homeless and with sponsoring the new Blue Bikes venture, which replaced Hubway as the city’s dominant bike service this spring.

Dreyfus declined to say who he’s meeting this week — with one exception. But on recent visits to


he has met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress. And this time he does plan to confer with Senator Elizabeth Warren on legislation to address the opioid epidemic.“We have a lot that divides us in the country,” Dreyfus says. “We’re divided around issues of income or party or race. We shouldn’t be divided because of illness. Illness is actually a great equalizer.” — JON CHESTO


Watershed moment, and a dream job

You might call this a watershed moment.

After running the Weston-based Charles River Watershed Association for 28 years, executive director Bob Zimmerman is handing over the canoe paddle to Emily Norton, the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts director. Zimmerman, 68, is retiring this summer. Norton, who is also a Newton city councilor, plans to take over in August.

Zimmerman leaves both the conservation group, with its 12-person staff and $1.5 million budget, and the river in good shape. (The Environmental Protection Agency just gave the Charles, once known for its “dirty water,” an A- grade for cleanliness.) But the organization’s efforts to promote “green infrastructure,” such as localized wastewater treatment and power generation that would help communities better withstand climate change, are still in their early stages. Norton hopes to build on Zimmerman’s work in that regard.

Norton, a registered lobbyist for her Sierra Club job, also wants to give the group more of a presence on Beacon Hill.

“Being the Massachusetts chapter director was my dream job,” Norton says, “but being executive director of CRWA is also my dream job, so it feels like I’ve been hit by lightning twice.” — JON CHESTO

Exec gets first shot to run a company

After playing key supporting roles at Dunkin’ Brands Group in Canton, Chris Fuqua is finally getting his shot at running a company.

Fuqua was just recruited to be the chief executive of B.Good, the Boston-based fast-casual chain. He takes over for cofounder Anthony Ackil, who stepped down from the CEO’s job to focus on an unspecified entrepreneurial venture. (The other cofounder, Jon Olinto, struck out on his own last year.)

Fuqua is taking over the 500-person company as it ramps up its franchising efforts. Roughly 20 percent of its 70 locations are franchised now, but privately owned B.Good is looking to increase that number. Fuqua hopes to bring his marketing experience at Dunkin’ to bear. He says consumers who are familiar with B.Good — known for its locally sourced ingredients — tend to love it, but not enough people know about it.

He says B.Good is still thinking like a startup. He welcomes the opportunity to work in a smaller corporate structure, one in which big decisions can be made at a quick pace.

“I learned a ton at Dunkin’, I have great relationships there, and I have a lot of respect for what they’re doing there,” Fuqua says. “The time was right for me to come somewhere where I can put my own stamp on something.” — JON CHESTO

Listeners like what they hear on charity

Most people know Greg Hill from his morning show on WAAF. But the thing Hill seems most proud of these days is his foundation. It just cleared the $2 million mark, as measured by the funds raised since its inception in 2010.

“I don’t think I ever envisioned listeners would be as generous as they’ve been and that we would be able to build these corporate partnerships to get to this point,” says Hill, who is also a restaurateur.

He started the Greg Hill Foundation as a way of celebrating his radio show’s 20th anniversary — a long run in the radio biz. Hill wanted to create a vehicle to raise money for families affected by tragedies — a house fire, for example, or a sudden death.

Hill regularly asks for help from listeners and then matches those donations with funds from his foundation. The foundation rarely has much money in its account, he says, because it is giving money away almost as quickly as it arrives.

He also uses his restaurant ventures, including a local Howl at the Moon franchise and a brewery in Maynard, to attract donors. Longtime sponsors include Nantucket NectarsWinterWymanEchoStor Technologies, and Boston Beer.

“The great thing that has come about with the foundation is that there is oftentimes a symbiotic relationship between the radio show, our clients there, and our hospitality ventures and our vendors there,” he says.

Hill says he’s proud of the Boston area’s philanthropic spirit. Recently, he ran into Putnam Investments chief executive Bob Reynolds at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston. Reynolds asked Hill what he could do to help the foundation. Putnam isn’t a sponsor yet, but Hill says he’s working on it. — JON CHESTO


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