Peak Health Alliance names new CEO as Tamara Pogue steps down to fulfill commissioner role
KEYSTONE — With Tamara Pogue’s election to the Summit Board of County Commissioners comes changes at the nonprofit she helped create, Peak Health Alliance.
Effective Jan. 1, Pogue will no longer be the CEO of Peak Health, a Summit County-based insurance purchasing collaborative. She will be succeeded by Peak Health’s lead negotiator and data analyst, Claire Brockbank.
Pogue said she decided to step down from the role because her job as commissioner will take up most of her time.
“I really want to focus on that role (as commissioner) and make sure that I have sufficient time to have all the conversations I need to have with the people of Summit county to focus on all of the issues important to them, not just health care,” she said.
Pogue said she’s proud of the work she’s done as CEO and believes the nonprofit is in good hands with Brockbank.
“I can’t think of anyone I would rather hand this over to,” Pogue said about Brockbank. “Her knowledge of health care is extensive and she understands the power of negotiation, collaboration and consensus.”
Unlike Pogue, who came to Peak Health with a background in community organization from her time as the executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Brockbank will step into the role with about 30 years of health care experience behind her.
Brockbank has spent the majority of her career dedicated to reducing insurance premiums for people across America. In the mid-1990s, she helped create the first private health insurance alliance in Colorado, which at the time was called the Colorado Purchasing Alliance. As part of that venture, she helped write and pass legislation that allowed purchasing alliances to operate.
The original alliance has since disbanded. However, the legislation remained in Colorado. Brockbank was later connected to Pogue, and the rest of the team that would become Peak Health, through Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway.
Since then, Brockbank has been an adviser to Pogue and the rest of the Peak Health team.
“It was kind of a crazy thing to come back to this 25 years later to say, ‘Gosh, the world has changed a lot,’” Brockbank said. “We focus more on hospitals now in many ways, but the dynamics are more the same in that employers, purchasers and individuals have so little control over health care. Yet, they pay for it.”
In the time in between Brockbank’s first run with the Colorado Purchasing Alliance and her start with Peak Health, she worked to advocate for lower insurance premiums and reinsurance programs on the state and national levels. In addition to working with Peak Health, she’s also the chair of the board of Connect for Health Colorado, which is the primary way people purchase insurance on the individual market.
Through her position on the board, Brockbank said she’s been able to have more of a grasp on insurance needs throughout the state.
“It’s been really interesting understanding and learning what Connect for Health can and can’t do and what it needs to do to better serve the individuals in rural communities,” she said.
Brockbank hopes her position on the board and the fact that she lives in Denver will help establish Peak Health as a statewide organization rather than just a Summit County one. She does not plan to relocate to Summit.
“There is sometimes a tendency in Denver to disregard really important initiatives that happen outside of Denver and weren’t thought of by Denver,” Brockbank said. “I would like to continue building on what (Pogue) has done by really educating the policymakers and the folks in Denver that have so much impact on the rest of the state.”
In addition to working with policymakers and leaders across the state, Brockbank’s initial goals for the position will be to increase the stability of the nonprofit, which is only a year old, and continue to expand past the seven counties that currently have Peak Health as an option.
Brockbank also plans to continue fostering strong relationships with health care providers. Right now, the nonprofit is partnered with Centura Health as its primary provider. Brockbank said her experience being the lead negotiator for Peak Health will help keep those partnerships strong.
“I think a lot of hospitals, before they experience Peak, think that we’re out to shut them down, to decimate them,” she said. “It’s really important for Peak to be able to communicate to hospitals around the state that we’re a pragmatic partner. … How do we work together to find that win-win that results in a reduction of premiums and more accessibility for those services that are super important?”
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