Bernard Tyson, Kaiser Permanente
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson died unexpectedly in his sleep Sunday, the medical care giant announced. Among the nation’s top healthcare executives, Tyson has been 60.
He rose through the ranks during a 30-year career at Kaiser to become CEO in 2013. Over his tenure, the integrated healthcare system and health insurance giant grew from 9 million members, with over 174,000 workers, to serve over 12 million members with a workforce of 218,000. Under his leadership, the country’s biggest non-profit health system became a major advocate in the movement to enhance the delivery on maintenance and benefits from the U.S.
His sudden passing elicited an outpouring of remembrances from fellow health-care leaders.
“Bernie was a good friend and trusted peer, and I am so saddened by his passing,” stated Larry Merlo, CVS Health CEO, including, “I’ll miss Bernie’s keen mind and good nature, as well as his unique ability to rally people from all walks of life around a singular goal of making health care better for all Americans.”
“Bernie was a visionary leader with a passion for health equity, quality care and serving those in need,” stated Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans. “His loss is a loss for all who strive to improve the quality of care and coverage in the American health care system.”
“He truly ‘walked the talk’ in his concern for making health care not just a right, but something that is affordable and centered on the great diversity of patients,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the agency that conducts the Affordable Care Act market in the golden state.
Tyson’s latest push has been in the field of social determinants of health, economic and social issues in lower income communities that have adverse impact the health patients. Last week, Kaiser established a $200 million fund to help address a few of those problems in the Bay Area, half of which might tackle affordable housing and homelessness.
“We’re here every day and making sure that we provide coverage. We have all kinds of financial assistance program for our members… so our incentives are all aligned to the community benefits and the well being of the entire community,” Tyson explained on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” last week, after a look at the community’s At Work Summit in San Francisco.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called Tyson an inspirational leader, tweeting Sunday, “A light in this world has gone out… I will always remember him with love in my heart.”
Kaiser Permanente didn’t disclose the origin of Tyson’s sudden departure. On Saturday, the executive had looked at an Afro Tech occasion in Oakland, California tweeting out images of the gathering.
Tyson is survived by his wife Denise Bradley-Tyson, and three sons.
On Sunday, Kaiser Permanente’s board called Gregory Adams, executive vice president and group president as interim chairman and CEO.
“The board has full confidence in Greg Adams’ ability to lead Kaiser Permanente through this unexpected transition,” stated Edward Pei, Kaiser board chair of the executive committee in a statement.