CareFirst elevates chief operating officer to head the company

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has chosen an internal candidate as its next CEO.

Brian D. Pieninck, the insurer’s chief operating officer since April 2017, will take the helm when Chet Burrell retires June 30 after more than a decade as CEO. The state’s largest insurer announced the appointment Wednesday.

As CareFirst’s chief operating officer, Pieninck has been responsible for more than 4,000 employees and overseeing business functions for CareFirst’s technology division and four business units.

Pieninck was not available for comment Wednesday. He said in a statement that he was looking forward to helping the company continue to provide affordable and accessible health care.

“I feel honored and grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization that is such an important part of the lives of its members, the communities it serves, and the dedicated employees who work for it,” Pieninck said.

He was chosen after a national search by CareFirst.

“Brian is an exceptional and energetic leader who has quickly demonstrated his ability to achieve outstanding business results while remaining focused on the importance of CareFirst’s not-for-profit mission and the people who work to uphold it each day,” said Stephen L. Waechter, chair of CareFirst’s board of directors, in a statement. “As we thank Chet Burrell for his years of outstanding service to the company, we also are confident in Brian’s ability to expand on the tremendous work that has taken place under Chet’s guidance.”

Pieninck joined CareFirst in April 2015 as an executive vice president of the company’s large-group business. He was responsible for the service, sales and claims operations for CareFirst’s largest and most complex accounts.

Pieninck oversaw the largest-ever year-over-year enrollment growth in CareFirst’s large-group market. It grew 12 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“CareFirst is very fortunate to have a leader with Brian’s capabilities,” Burrell said in a statement. “He is highly regarded by the board and all who know him in the community. Most of all, I believe Brian is committed to carrying out CareFirst’s not-for-profit mission.”

Pieninck worked at Aetna Inc. for 19 years before joining CareFirst. He was most recently president of the Americas for the company’s international business. In that role he was responsible for business in the Caribbean and North, Central and South America.

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