In the midst of a review by a state task force, a key official of the state Injured Workers Insurance Fund has abruptly resigned citing personal reasons.
IWIF board Chairman Daniel E. McKew said yesterday that Doreen A. Horvath, 39, chief operating officer for the state fund, submitted her resignation last week. The resignation, which gave one week's notice, is effective today.
Horvath, who previously was a regional manager for the Travellers Insurance Group, could not be reached to comment.
"It was a big surprise," said McKew, who added that he has asked IWIF President Paul M. Rose to put together a plan for dealing with the departure. McKew said he had exchanged telephone messages with Horvath but had not been able to speak with her directly after the resignation.
Horvath, who came to IWIF about 18 months ago, was paid $114,600 annually and also was vice president.
"It's a very important position," McKew said.
One of her recent duties was overseeing the purchase by IWIF of Statutory Benefits Management Corp., a managed health care company that previously worked under contract with the agency.
IWIF, with assets of nearly $1 billion, is run by a board appointed by the governor. It competes with private insurance companies and provides workers compensation coverage to about 20 percent of the companies that operate in Maryland.
McKew called Horvath's resignation "a surprise, a shock. It's not the type of exit I'm used to from this kind of a position but that's all I know."
Though several IWIF sources said Rose and Horvath had clashed openly in recent months, Rose issued a statement saying he regretted her departure and wished her the best. Rose said his goal is to fill the slot by the end of the year.
IWIF's operations are under review by a task force appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening. The panel held its first meeting last month. It was created after a series of news articles about IWIF, including reports on a $21 million no-bid contract awarded by IWIF to SBMC in 1996.
In its first meeting, the task force discussed whether IWIF should be made subject to review by the state insurance commissioner, and whether the agency should continue to compete with private insurers or serve as only the insurer of last resort for organizations unable to buy coverage from private companies.
Rose urged the task force to consider recommending that IWIF be exempted from the state open meeting and public records laws.
McKew said he had been assured by Rose that Horvath's departure would not affect the assimilation of SBMC into IWIF. The IWIF board approved the purchase of SBMC for $6.5 million in May. McKew said an IWIF official who worked for Horvath was in charge of the unit.
Former IWIF board member Louise T. Keelty said she was disappointed to hear of Horvath's departure.
"I found her to be highly competent. It's a shame," said Keelty, who left the board in June.
Two other IWIF vice presidents have left the agency in the past two years.
Pub Date: 9/10/99