Blue Cross & Blue Shield Exec Picked As NE Health Network CEO

Wednesday the Nebraska Health Network announced it has picked Lee Handke as CEO of the organization. The organization said the pick is fitting because it continues to focus on the transformation of the health care landscape in Omaha. He will begin his duties on March 30.

The Nebraska Health Network is an accountable care organization formed in 2010 between Methodist Health System and Nebraska Medicine. It is a network of physicians and health systems that share financial and medical responsibility for coordinating care to patients. Handke comes on board as the first CEO of the organization.

“We are a physician-led organization and have been operating the past several years under the guidance of the NHN board,” said Dr. Mike Romano, chairman of the NHN board. “We felt the organization had reached a point where a CEO was needed to take us where we want to go. To have someone with Lee’s health care expertise and knowledge of the Omaha market puts the NHN in a position to truly transform the health care industry in our community.”

Handke is experienced in the health care arena, having been with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) since 2002. His initial role was the director of pharmacy and most recently he has served as senior vice president of providers and products.

Handke most recently played a role in negotiations between CHI and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“I am very excited and honored to be selected to lead the Nebraska Health Network,” Handke said. “This collaborative partnership between Methodist Health System and Nebraska Medicine, the top two health systems in Omaha, is certainly unique and they have done great work together the past five years. As health care continues to evolve we acknowledge there is much work still to do. To be able to lead this organization and change the way we care for our community is a challenge I welcome.”

As a locally-owned health care entity, the Nebraska Health Network is intimately familiar with the health care concerns affecting Nebraskans – from individuals to employers based in the state.

“Part of the NHN’s growth strategy is to increase our focus on new markets by creating partnerships and products with insurers and employers,” Dr. Romano said. “Population health is a key component of the Affordable Care Act and we want to expand on the model we have in place with our own employees. Having a CEO of Lee’s expertise will allow our organization to reach its growth potential within the Omaha market.”