Woodrow A. Myers Jr., M.D.
TITLE: Executive vice president and chief medical officer, Healthcare Quality Assurance Division
COMPANY: WellPoint Health Networks Inc.
TENURE: 18 months
EDUCATION: B.S., Stanford University, 1973; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1977; M.B.A., Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1982
FAMILY: Married to Dr. Debra J. Myers, 28 years; with two children, Kimberly, 23; and Zachary, 20
As executive vice president and chief medical officer of WellPoint Health Networks, Dr. Woodrow A. Myers Jr., 47, manages the Healthcare Quality Assurance Division of one of the nation’s largest and most successful publicly traded healthcare companies. Posting third-quarter revenues of $108.4 million in 2001, the Thousand Oaks, California-based company services approximately 10 million medical members, and more than 44 million specialty members, offering network-based health insurance products including HMO, PPO, and specialty products.
FYI: Myers was formerly the director of healthcare management at the Ford Motor Co., and also served as senior vice president and corporate medical director at the Associated Group (now Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield). He was commissioner of health for the city of New York; assistant professor of medicine at Cornell Medical College; health commissioner for the state of Indiana; and secretary of the Indiana State Board of Health. Previously, he was the physician health advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.
Myers confides that he was an “average student” academically, but reveals that college for him was a place to learn how to relate to people, and learn “a lot about how racism has mutated” over the years. “It [racism] still exists, and it’s still very real,” says Myers. “In college, I got the chance to really understand how it’s practiced at higher levels. My stereotypes of people were also changed. I had to make my own decisions about each person individually.”
Proudest career moment: “I was commissioner of health for the state of Indiana during the time when [AIDS victim] Ryan White, the young man from Kokomo, Indiana, wanted to go to school and couldn’t because the people there didn’t want him [to attend]. I had the opportunity to help change how people perceived HIV/AIDS. The laws at that time didn’t allow me, as the state health commissioner, to make that decision; so, ultimately, we got the laws changed, and got him into school, although, as you know, he died from his disease. Engineering and working that issue from a political, a business, a social, and an emotional perspective was quite a difficult challenge, and I certainly don’t want to take the majority of the credit for it. But that was a crucial point in my career. It was one of those jobs that you’d definitely have to consider front line, because it’s on the ground in government.”
Greatest professional challenge: “For me, it has always been an issue of, ‘Am I using the talents that I have to the best of my ability, and am I in the best situation to use them?’ I’m always wondering if I’m continuing to be a good example for those who