Jeanette Thornton joins the executive team to lead Policy & Strategy
Kristine Grow named interim leader of Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives as David Merritt heads to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (September 19, 2022) – Today, AHIP announced changes to key executive leadership positions as it continues its work to improve health care coverage, access, and affordability for every American. First, Jeanette Thornton is promoted to Executive Vice President of Public Policy and Strategy, effective immediately. Second, with the announcement of David Merritt, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, departing for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Kristine Grow will become interim leader.
“AHIP’s strong team of employees and leaders are all driven by a single-minded commitment to promote real solutions that work to improve the health, well-being, and financial stability of every single American,” said Matt Eyles, President and CEO of AHIP. “We look forward to building on our very strong foundation to make additional strides in improving health care affordability, access, equity, and value.”
A Stronger, Combined Public Policy Team
With nearly 20 years of experience in health policy and government, Jeanette Thornton is one of the country’s preeminent experts in health insurance legislation, regulations, and operations. Thornton joined AHIP in 2006, leading public policy related to the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the individual market.
After serving in multiple roles of expanded responsibility, Thornton most recently served as AHIP’s Senior Vice President of Product, Employer, and Commercial Policy. In that role, she has led policy initiatives and research on many challenging and high-profile issues, including stabilizing the individual market, legislation to end surprise medical bills for patients, working with White House and Administration officials to address COVID-19 and mental health care needs, and navigating health care issues for women and people who are LGBTQIA+.
Prior to her tenure at AHIP, Thornton held positions at the Office of Management and Budget and Social Security Administration.
“Health care impacts everyone, and Jeanette’s leadership has been essential in navigating AHIP and our members through some of the most impactful and challenging legislative, regulatory, and implementation issues over the last 15+years,” Eyles said. “I am looking forward to further enhancing our policy-driven strength, growth, insight, and alignment as Jeanette now takes the helm of AHIP’s full policy practice and joins our executive leadership team.”
“The public policy team is a core and essential part of AHIP’s advocacy capabilities, projecting how new policy proposals could impact the health and financial stability of all Americans,” Thornton said. “I am excited to work with my colleagues, the AHIP Board, and member organizations in this new role to further expand health insurance providers’ ability to guide greater health.”
Public Affairs Advocacy that Delivers Results
David Merritt, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, will depart AHIP in October to become Senior Vice President of Policy & Advocacy at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since joining AHIP in 2016, Merritt has led many key initiatives that have strengthened AHIP’s reach and influence inside the Beltway and in the states. Merritt has also advanced health insurance providers’ reputation for delivering value for Americans’ health and financial security, in AHIP’s engagement with several health care coalitions, and in AHIP’s robust health care advocacy engine.
“Through David’s leadership, we have made great progress in demonstrating health insurance providers’ value and promoting real health care solutions for American families,” said Eyles. “I greatly appreciate David’s strategic insights and results-driven initiatives, which have delivered time and again for our members. I wish him the very best and look forward to continuing to collaborate as he continues to this next step in his career.”
“Throughout my tenure at AHIP, I have seen time and again how health insurance providers rise to the challenge of improving health care affordability and access,” said Merritt. “It has been an honor to work with this outstanding team, which never wavers in its commitment to improve care and coverage for everyone.”
Kristine Grow, Senior Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs, will lead AHIP’s Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives team on an interim basis as Merritt’s replacement is sought. Grow served as Vice President of Corporate Communications of Aetna before joining AHIP in 2016. With more than 25 years of experience in communications and public affairs, her work at AHIP has included leading initiatives that spotlight the industry’s role in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, improving mental health care access, and defending Americans’ health care privacy. Grow also led AHIP’s brand refresh last year to better align with health insurance providers’ commitment to Guide Greater Health for all Americans.
“AHIP is driven by a team-based culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, and results,” Eyles said. “Kristine has been critical to AHIP’s success, and her leadership will provide important continuity as we continue to build on our strategy and vision for 2023 and beyond.”
“AHIP continues to be a leading national voice in health care advocacy and a highly-influential organization that delivers real results for its members and the millions of consumers they serve,” Eyles concluded. “We go into the rest of this year in a very strong position with our recent advocacy successes and with a deep and talented team that is extremely well prepared to advance our industry’s top goals.”
AHIP is the national association whose members provide health care coverage, services, and solutions to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that make health care better and coverage more affordable and accessible for everyone. Visit www.ahip.org to learn how working together, we are Guiding Greater Health.