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State health and family services chief leaving to join insurance firm

Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Director Felicia Norwood is stepping down later this month to take an executive position at a leading health insurance company. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Felicia Norwood is stepping down as director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to take an executive position at a leading health insurance company later this month.

Anthem, a for-profit health care company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, announced Monday that Norwood had been named executive vice president of the company and president of its Government Business Division. Prior to joining Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration in 2015, Norwood spent nearly 20 years at Aetna, another leading insurance company.

In a statement announcing the departure, Rauner touted Norwood’s efforts to reboot the state’s Medicaid program and secure a $2 billion state Medicaid waiver that allows community-based service providers to give more care to patients with substance abuse and other mental health problems.

“Director Norwood has been steadfast in her efforts to ensure the state’s most vulnerable citizens have access to quality healthcare,” Rauner said.

“We are tremendously grateful for Director Norwood’s talent and service to the people of Illinois. We truly wish her all the success in her new endeavor,” he added.

Norwood will leave Rauner’s administration on June 15 and start her new position three days later.

In her new role, Norwood will be responsible for Anthem’s Medicaid, Medicare and federal government solutions businesses, according to the company.

“Felicia is a proven leader with extensive experience in both the healthcare industry and government,” Anthem President and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux said. “She shares Anthem’s vision of creating a better healthcare experience for out consumers and all Americans.”

A search for Norwood’s replacement is underway, Rauner said.