Featured TRUST Member
As interviewed by TRUST Marketing Communications Committee Member Susan Wiese
Lynn Gruber, JD, is Vice President of Population Health for HRA IQ™. HRA IQ™ is a Twin Cities-based firm which eases the workload for time-pressed physicians by obtaining the results of a government-sponsored health risk assessment as part of a Medicare recipient’s Annual Wellness Visit. HRA IQ™ health professionals visit the senior in his/her home to complete a 40-minute questionnaire and offer screening tests which can identify health risk factors and uncover signs of future disease. Using the information gathered and analyzed by HRA IQ™, a physician is better able to optimize a health improvement plan for his or her Medicare patients. At the same time, the assessment serves up a gold mine of data on Medicare recipients which can be used by doctors, clinics and hospitals to forecast the needs of an ever-increasing mature and aging patient population.
Lynn also founded and manages her own consulting firm, Summit Solutions Unlimited, where she advises and helps clients interpret changes in the health care delivery system brought about by the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, she reviews and interprets health insurance letters, forms, and claims information for clients; serves as a patient advocate; serves as a facilitator for strategic planning sessions; and pursues lobbying/education initiatives for clients.
Lynn is a charter member of the TRUST. She has served on several committees (most recently the Marketing Communications Committee), and served as president in 1995. "I am proud to say I arranged to have national political columnist Molly Ivins (from Texas) speak to the membership during the Clinton presidency."
How has your leadership role and career changed over time?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been the opportunity to work directly with health care industry leaders, physicians, state and federal government officials, advocacy groups and individual policy holders. I’m able to bring clarity and understanding to a discussion of health care because I have served in a number of capacities where the assigned task was a first-of-its-kind endeavor. It’s gratifying to have had my fingerprints on a health care initiative from its earliest stages, and then to subsequently implement the plan or program and manage toward success.
I served as the very first Executive Director/President of the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA), the largest health care, high-risk pool in the U.S. with 30,000 members at its height and $250 million in annual claims payments. MCHA was created in 1976 and became operational in 1977. During my tenure there, which spanned two decades (1990-2011), MCHA became a model for the nation in creating a health plan for people who were not eligible for insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions. With the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, MCHA ceased enrolling members at the end of 2014. MCHA now exists as a reinsurance organization for health insurers.
In addition to helping to forge and develop the best high risk pool in the U.S., I am very proud of having helped form the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Plans (NASCHIP) in 1991. NASCHIP was an organization of all the high risk pools in the U.S. By 2011, NASCHIP represented all 35 risk pools in the U.S. I served on NASCHIP’s board of directors and also as president of the board. Besides sharing plan operations information and policy ideas, NASCHIP successfully lobbied Congress (during President G. W. Bush’s administration) to appropriate funding which allowed high risk pools to offer premium subsidy programs for insureds and which also helped decrease plan losses. This was a great lesson in collaboration at a national level.
Before MCHA, in the late 80s, I joined InterStudy, where I served as vice president of managed care research; I worked alongside Paul Ellwood, Jr., MD, who’s considered to be the father of the HMO. At InterStudy, I wrote and disseminated research findings of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs).
I also worked at the Hennepin County Medical Society during some of its most formative years. And at the Minnesota Medical Association in my capacity as director of medical services, I advised physicians on third party payer rules and reimbursement guidelines. At the time, TRUST member Carol Kaemmerer was also working at the MMA; she was writing position papers to guide the organizations’ lobbying efforts.
On more than one occasion throughout my career, it’s been a member of the TRUST who alerted me to a job opening or encouraged me to pursue an opportunity for employment. I have always appreciated their support.
Have you ever been mentored?
I have had the good fortune to benefit from more than one mentor.
At the Hennepin County Medical Society, it was Tom Hoban, then executive vice president, who offered me a ringside seat on the makings of what would become Medica, but, back then, was known as the Physician’s Health Plan. Early in my career, Hoban stressed the importance of meeting the needs of our members or partners. If they sought our services, we were expected to respond immediately! This speaks to what TRUST members have pledged to do for one another: when a TRUST member asks you for insight or advice, the request deserves a timely response.
Another mentor, Charlene Smith, a fellow law student at Hamline University School of Law and an accomplished history professor, taught me to appreciate the value of different viewpoints, and different ways of thinking, particularly as this relates to racial and cultural differences.
Perhaps the most important mentor to me was Jack M. Barron, my uncle and a custom homebuilder. He was a creative light who encouraged me to think out of the box, to take risks, and to find joy in life every day.
What intrigues or inspires you?
Challenges. Problem solving. I’m results-oriented. Simply put, I like to get things done. I am also an effective and skilled mediator who likes to bring fractured units together to achieve a common goal. What inspires me is learning from those who are generous, caring and humble.
Do you have words of wisdom to share?
Share the lessons that have helped you. Make time to network and form meaningful relationships. Be bold on your own behalf. Generally, no one is going to look out for you in this supernova, high-speed world in which we live.
What would TRUST members not know about you?
I am the first in my family to attend college, where I majored in English and Journalism and then went on to earn a law degree. However, it’s my undergraduate liberal arts degree — with its emphasis on literature and history — that has provided an educational foundation to work on a voluntary basis with preservationists, city planners and historical society members, which I enjoy very much. And, by the way, my nickname is “Elvis.”
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