BlueCross Announces Leadership Transition

J.D. Hickey Succeeding Bill Gracey as CEO of State’s Largest Health Plan

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee CEO Bill Gracey is retiring effective at the end of August and will be succeeded by J.D. Hickey, who has served as chief operating officer since 2012 and CEO-elect since June.

“J.D. has proven himself to be a highly capable leader throughout his time at BlueCross. He’s consistently driven innovation throughout our organization, while at the same time continuing our commitment to service excellence and affordability. Our board of directors is confident that J.D. is the right person to lead the company at a time when health care continues to change at a rapid pace,” said Betty DeVinney, chairwoman of the BlueCross board.

“I’m grateful for the confidence the board has placed in me. Our team – senior leadership and everyone throughout the organization – has successfully navigated unprecedented change in our industry, always with the best interests of our members in mind. And our mission of providing peace of mind through better health will continue to guide our work,” Hickey said.

Hickey joined BlueCross in 2011 as CEO of the BlueCross Medicaid managed care subsidiary BlueCare Tennessee, and was named chief operating officer of the parent company less than a year later.

DeVinney said the board is appreciative of Gracey’s leadership as CEO, a period of strong performance by the company. Prior to being named COO in 2010, Gracey had served on the BlueCross board of directors after retiring as executive vice president and chief operating officer of LifePoint Hospitals. He became CEO in 2013 when Vicky Gregg retired.

The health care landscape has evolved rapidly in recent years, driven primarily by federal health care reform. During this time, the company has posted significant gains in membership and strong operating performance.

“BlueCross is stronger than ever. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past few years and the extremely capable leadership we’ve put in place to continue the company’s success. It’s a good time to pass the torch to J.D. and team,” Gracey said.

Before coming to BlueCross, Hickey was a principal at McKinsey & Co., where he led strategic health care consulting and management teams for one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. There he was recognized as the top expert on health care reform.

As a member of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s cabinet, Hickey served as director of the TennCare Bureau from 2004 to 2006. In this role, he led efforts to reform the TennCare program and ultimately return it to financial stability.

Hickey graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University. He also earned a medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine and a juris doctorate from the Duke University School of Law.

About BlueCross® BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through better health. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at

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