Former Highmark president brings unique perspective to Bowles Rice practice

By Carrie Salls | Mar 2, 2017

PARKERSBURG – Former Highmark West Virginia president Fred Earley will now practice law at Bowles Rice.  

“During the latter half of 2016, I determined it was the appropriate time for me to step down as president of Highmark WV, but I wasn’t ready to completely retire,” Earley told The West Virginia Record. “Through discussions with Tom Heywood, the managing partner at Bowles Rice, we identified this opportunity for me to stay engaged in the growth and transformation of health care in West Virginia.”


Fred Earley   Rick Lee

Bowles Rice said in a statement that Earley has nearly 30 years of experience in the health care and insurance industries. Earley served as president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia from 2009 to 2016.


“I do not believe there is anyone in West Virginia more universally admired and respected in health care and insurance than Fred Earley,” Heywood told The West Virginia Record.


Earley will be charged with leading and growing Bowles Rice’s health care team.


“As providers and insurance companies work to create new models to deliver affordable, accessible and quality care, Fred is uniquely situated to advise and assist,” Heywood said.


During his time at Highmark, Earley said he was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in West Virginia for the insurer, including the development of the health insurance exchange and products associated with that and the expansion of Medicaid to more than 170,000 additional West Virginia citizens.


“It was a period of significant transformation in the health care and health insurance industry, and I believe we navigated this and served the citizenry of West Virginia well during this time, particularly in light of the significant degree of uncertainty and change we were faced with,” Earley said.


As president of Highmark WV during a time of substantial change, Earley said he “perhaps more than anyone in West Virginia…was in a position to experience and understand this from all perspectives: payors/insurers, customers, both groups and individuals, hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers as well as regulatory agencies.”


“I believe all that I have experienced and learned throughout my time as president, in addition to my legal background, provides a solid foundation that, along with the rest of the talent and expertise available at Bowles Rice, will help others navigate what will continue to be a time of transition and uncertainty in the health care industry,” Earley said.


Earley earned his law degree from the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He was born and raised in Parkersburg and has been back in West Virginia for 30 years.


“This has been my home for almost my entire life,” Earley said. “I enjoy most of the tremendous outdoor opportunities and beauty West Virginia offers.”


In addition to Earley, Heywood said Bowles Rice has recently added to its team former West Virginia Secretary of Revenue and former Speaker of the House of Delegates Bob Kiss, former West Virginia Secretary of Commerce and former president of the West Virginia Senate Keith Burdette and former general counsel to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Peter Markham.

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