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RI BUSINESS

Meet the new boss at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island

Martha L. Wofford takes the reins next week. Here are some of her thoughts and goals

Martha L. Wofford is Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island's new president and CEO.
Martha L. Wofford is Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island's new president and CEO.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

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LEADING OFF

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I need to see Charles Barkley as the host of “Jeopardy!” Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 139,173 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 767 new cases since April 2. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 2.5 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 19.8 percent. The state announced two more deaths, bringing the total to 2,629. There were 144 people in the hospital, and 256,834 residents were fully vaccinated.

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Rhode Island’s largest health insurer will be under new leadership next week as Martha L. Wofford takes over as the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s new president and CEO.

Wofford is succeeding Kim Keck, who is now the president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Here’s a quick Q&A with Wofford ahead of her first day.

Q: You have a bunch of political experience from the Clinton years. How did you transition from politics and environmental work to health care?

Wofford: After leaving the Clinton Administration, I went to business school and then spent several years in management consulting, where I consulted to health plans. From there I was hired by a client, Aetna, and have spent 20 years working in healthcare on both the payer and provider sides. I like to think that those early years in Washington continue to help me navigate aspects of the challenging healthcare policy landscape.

Q: What’s your top goal in your first year at Blue Cross & Blue Shield?

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Wofford: Ensure we’re doing everything we can to support efforts to vaccinate Rhode Islanders so that families can get back on their feet economically, socially, and emotionally and children can get back to school full time. Redouble the company’s efforts to passionately lead a state of health and well-being across Rhode Island, for all Rhode Islanders.

Q: You’ve probably heard about the plan to merge Lifespan and Care New England. What’s the number one question that you think policymakers should be asking about this proposal?

Wofford: Policymakers, employers and consumers should all be asking if the consolidation will lead to lower healthcare costs, continued and/or increased access, and higher quality of care for Rhode Islanders. In particular, policymakers should be asking about how to hold the new system accountable to best serve Rhode Islanders. I look forward to the conversation.

Q: COVID-19 has dramatically changed the health care landscape. What have you learned from the pandemic?

Wofford: There is so much that we all learned. I think we all have gained a new understanding of just how devastating serious inequities in healthcare can be on communities of color. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Rhode Island to effectively address this longstanding and unacceptable situation, and I feel confident that Rhode Island can lead the way to meaningful change.

THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND

⚓ It’s been nearly two years since Rhode Island lawmakers approved funding to train all 911 call takers to provide CPR instructions over the phone, but Lynn Arditi from The Public’s Radio reports that new data shows no improvement in people’s chances of receiving CPR in the critical minutes prior to the arrival of first responders. Read more.

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⚓ Haitian-American leaders in Rhode Island are calling for the federal government to stop deporting undocumented people to Haiti amid a surge in kidnappings, gang violence, and political turmoil there. Read more.

⚓The director of the department that runs Rhode Island’s “hospital of last resort” is resigning effective this week amid uncertainty and turmoil over the future of the state-run institution. Read more.

⚓ Approximately 7,300 COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be made available Tuesday at 9 a.m. for Rhode Islanders in all eligible groups, which now includes residents as young as 50 years old, who became eligible Monday. Read more.

⚓ Congrats to reporter and friend of Rhode Map Phil Eil, who just landed a book deal for a project he’s been working on for what feels like his entire adult life. Read more.

MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM

Education: Becker College has had financial challenges for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic was the final straw. Read more.

Politics: Ending months of intense speculation, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced Tuesday she is running for a full term as the city’s chief executive, joining an already-crowded field in this year’s race. Read more.

Awards: Congratulations to my colleague Jeneé Osterheldt, who won the Burl Osborne Editorial and Opinion Award from the News Leaders Association. Read more.

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Sports: The Red Sox looked like a ball club last night. Read more.

WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY

Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ The House and the Senate are expected to take their final votes on a climate change bill later today.

⚓ The Providence Teachers Union is holding a rally at the State House and then marching to the Rhode Island Department of Education office to call for an end to the state takeover of Providence schools.

⚓ House Minority Leader Blake Fillippi and other Republicans are holding a press conference outside the Veterans Memorial Auditorium at 3:15 p.m. to discuss concerns with changes to the state’s election law that are being considered by the General Assembly.

⚓ The House Finance Committee will discuss a proposal to permanently extend the Rhode Island Promise scholarship program.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.


Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.