Lansing headquarters of Accident Fund takes starring role in ‘Under the Radar Michigan’

A screen capture from the “Under the Radar Michigan” episode.

Accident Fund Holdings, a workers compensation company and wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, has added new vitality to downtown Lansing since opening its headquarters in a former abandoned power plant in 2011. The company’s efforts to renovate the massive building and breathe life into the city of Lansing are showcased in a recent episode of “Under the Radar Michigan.”

In the episode, BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp explains the combined effort it took to make the project come together. “When we first started looking at an older power plant and turning it into business use, everybody thought we were crazy,” said Loepp. “[The building] has had a phenomenally positive impact on the city and the region.”

Now in its second season, the 30-minute “Under the Radar Michigan” episodes air on public television stations across the state and feature weekly episodes to connect people to their home state.

“We are honored to have Accident Fund national headquarters featured in an Under the Radar Michigan episode,” said Liz Haar, president and CEO of Accident Fund Holdings. “The show truly exemplified the importance of economic development in Michigan’s core cities and Accident Fund is proud to be a big part of that effort in downtown Lansing.”

Find out when the full episode airs here, or watch it on the Under the Radar Michigan website.

Blues on the Radio: the Live Downtown Games, UV safety and more in July

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is pleased to collaborate with its four Live Downtown partners (Compuware, Quicken Loans, Strategic Staffing Solutions and DTE Energy) to bring the first Live Downtown Games to life in downtown Detroit. The daily events, which celebrate the July 25, 2012 one-year anniversary of the Live Downtown program, will be a central point of discussion when Blues personalities take to the local airwaves in July.

The Healthier Michigan Radio Show

This month the spotlight is on some of the Blues’ partnerships and efforts downtown with Detroit’s Live Downtown Games and the Live Downtown initiative. Host Ann Thomas, of WJR-AM, convenes a full house of guests who all share a passion for Detroit:

  • Grace Derocha, registered dietitian and health coach, BCBSM
  • Tom Anderson, director of Wellness and Work Life, Compuware
  • Stephanie Stevenson, vice president of benefits, Quicken Loans
  • Carl Bentley, senior vice president, Strategic Staffing Solutions
  • Susan Bailey, manager of Wellness & Health Promotion, DTE Energy

The hour-long show will be available online or as a podcast after July 16, or be sure to tune in to it on the air on the following stations:

  • WJR in Detroit — 7-8 p.m. Monday, July 16
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing — 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 10
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City — 9-10 p.m. Monday, July 9
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids — 9-10 p.m. Sunday, July 8
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena — 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday, July 25

Tricia Keith

Live Downtown Games featured on ‘Destination 313’

Tricia Keith, the Blues’ vice president, Corporate Secretary and Services, will be a guest on Quicken Loans’ “Desination 313” radio show on WJR with hosts Paul W. Smith and Stephen Luigi Piazza, Quicken’s vice president. Daily events will take place July 23-27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the central business district of downtown Detroit, with medals awarded daily and a Live Downtown Games champion crowned at the end of the week. (We’ll be talking more about the Games here in future blog posts.)

Listen for Keith’s appearance when the show airs at 7 p.m. Friday, July 20, or visit the Destination 313 website for a podcast version after the show airs.

On the Lansing, Saginaw airwaves

Kevin Klobucar

Joining the Blues on the Radio this month is guest Kevin Klobucar, president and CEO of Blue Care Network. Kevin chats with Johnny Burke of WHNN-FM in Saginaw and Stephanie McCoy of WITL-FM in Lansing about Healthy Blue Xtras, BCN’s new HMO Health Savings Account plan, and how the Blues work with the best hospitals and doctors in Michigan to enhance the quality of health care, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

Tigers Radio

Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins play-by-play caller Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel discusses UV safety, the BCN HMO HSA plan, Keep Fit, a new individual plan from BCBSM, and more.

Photo by Girl.in.the.D

Blues on the Radio: Month-Long Spotlight on Revitalizing Michigan Cities in May

In May, The Healthier Michigan Radio Show that airs on radio stations throughout the state will focus on all of the exciting developments happening in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids that are helping to revitalize the state. Program host Ann Thomas will speak with:

  • Dan Loepp, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about the investments made by the Blues to help boost Detroit’s economy
  • Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corporation, about the many ways that metro Detroit and Michigan will benefit from the return of the Detroit Grand Prix
  • Tricia Keith, vice president, corporate secretary and services of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about why rebuildingDetroit is such an important mission for the Blues and its employees
  • Jeff Connolly, president for West Michigan Operations and Managed Care at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about how the Blues support West Michigan through various local partnerships and opportunities

The hour-long show is available online or as a podcast and is scheduled to air at the following times on the following stations:

  • WJR-AM in Detroit – 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 1
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing – 7-8 p.m. May 1
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids – 9-10 p.m. Sunday, May 6
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City – 9-10 p.m. Monday, May 14
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena – 11-11:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 23

WOOD Radio

If you live on Michigan’s west side, listen for Connolly on his regular Tuesday segment with WOOD host Steve Kelly. Connolly will discuss topics including the Blues’ Body & Soul walking challenge. This initiative brings African-American churches together in the area to compete for wellness grants. Other topics include the Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQI) under way with Michigan hospitals to improve health care quality while lowering costs, and the role of free clinics for the uninsured.

Tigers Radio

Finally, Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel will discuss National Nurses Week, Employee Health & Fitness Month, the Blues’ partnership with Michigan doctors and hospitals to lower health care costs and improve quality, and the Healthy Blue Xtras member program that provides special discounts to Michigan Blue Cross members at retailers throughout the state.

Photo by MeijerGardens

BluesWeek: Michigan Supreme Court Order Allows Continued Growth For Accident Fund

The Accident Fund headquarters in Lansing.

On April 6, the Michigan Supreme Court ended an appeal filed by former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox in a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The Supreme Court’s order affirms decisions of the Circuit Court and Court of Appeals that Accident Fund Holdings — a for-profit, workers compensation company and wholly-owned subsidiary of BCBSM — may own and operate its own subsidiary insurance companies, including those based outside the state of Michigan.

The Value of Accident Fund

This outcome is important to BCBSM. Blues’ ownership of Accident Fund returns significant long-term value to Blues’ health insurance ratepayers. BCBSM uses profits generated by Accident Fund to offset revenue that otherwise would have to be generated by health insurance lines of business.

Accident Fund also generates significant contributions for the state’s economy, and Lansing’s growing reputation as a national hub for insurance companies. Accident Fund is the 10th-largest workers compensation insurer in the nation, and owning subsidiaries based in other states allows the company to compete and grow its business outside Michigan. Accident Fund is headquartered in Lansing, where it employs 617 people, and last year opened a new national headquarters in a restored power plant in the heart of the city’s downtown. This new headquarters allowed BCBSM to bring hundreds of its own suburban Lansing workers into downtown Lansing to occupy Accident Fund’s former headquarters building. Accident Fund’s headquarters was constructed for growth, and it plans to remain and increase its workforce in mid-Michigan as it continues to grow its national customer base.

A separate count in the lawsuit regarding the ability of BCBSM to make capital contributions to Accident Fund is still pending in the Circuit Court, after being remanded from the Court of Appeals. We are confident the Circuit Court will follow the previous decision of the Commissioner of Insurance and rule in BCBSM’s favor, that the transfer of capital to Accident Fund from BCBSM was lawful.

If you have any questions about this ruling, please contact our newsroom at 313-549-9884.

Upcoming Event Reminder

Blue Cross and several partnering health care providers will make a major announcement about four statewide Collaborative Quality Initiatives on Tuesday, April 17 at the Blues’ Bricktown Auditorium in Detroit. The media is invited and encouraged to attend. The CQI program enlists hospitals and other providers across Michigan in comprehensive efforts to improve patient safety and clinical quality while reining in health care costs.

BluesWeek is a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy tidbits under way at BCBSM

Lansing-Area Communities Share $10,000 in Wellness Grants After Record Blues’ Community Challenge

Lynda Hyde, left, shares her story with BCBSM walking advocate Jodi Davis at the Blues' Community Challenge and Winter Warm-Up recognition event in Lansing.

With a boost from the Blues, participants in the Winter Warm-Up and Blues’ Community Challenge took a few walks around the Earth this winter — and never left the Lansing area to do it. 

The occasion was a free eight-week walking and physical activity competition between nine Greater Lansing communities. Together, nearly 2,400 participants logged an astounding 208,862 miles — the equivalent of more than eight trips around the Earth’s equator. Teams from each of the nine communities competed by signing up community members to log their physical activity.

The competing communities benefitted by taking home grant awards from BCBSM totaling almost $10,000, including $3,000 to the winning city of Lansing. The money is used to support public health and wellness projects within each community, such as bike trails, playground equipment, park benches and recreational splash pads.

Here are the other winning communities:

  • City of Charlotte — $2,000
  • Delhi Township — $1,000
  • City of East Lansing — $750
  • Delta Township — $750
  • City of St. Johns — $750
  • City of Grand Ledge — $500
  • Lansing Township — $500
  • City of Williamston — $500

Encouraging Signs

The Winter Warm-up and the Blues Community Challenge are hopeful signs that more people are embracing fitness and physical activity as a way to achieve good health. We saw a 40 percent leap in the number of residents actively participating in this year’s Blues’ Community Challenge and Winter Warm-Up.

Lynda Hyde from St. Johns tearfully shared her story at the celebration event March 10. When she first registered, she could not walk for more than three or four minutes or finish the indoor course at the Lansing Mall.

She is now walking 15 to 17 minutes a day and can walk in a swimming pool for up to an hour. She no longer needs a cane and is motivated to continue exercising.

“It’s amazing how everything just seemed to line up, how each piece just fell into place,” Hyde said. “I feel like it is just meant to happen at this time in my life. It is now the time for me to lose weight.”

With the help of groups such as Community Health Partners, a nonprofit coalition of Lansing-area organizations dedicated to making mid-Michigan a healthy place to live, the Blues will continue to work hard to create active, healthy communities across the state. These efforts improve health status and control health care costs for everyone in the long run.

Dome Magazine Profiles Blues President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp

Daniel J. Loepp’s Detroit upbringing, work ethic, ambition and “ability to read political tea leaves” take center stage in a new Dome Magazine profile of the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The profile “Comfortable with Politics,” by business writer Carol Cain, touches on Loepp’s previous  role as chief of staff for former Michigan House Speaker Curtis Hertel. It discusses how Loepp joined the Blues in 2000, was asked to lead the company in 2006 and has emerged as a strong civic leader:

Many are surprised to learn that the not-for-profit insurance provider has 8,000 employees and an economic impact of $22 billion in the state, and ranks only behind General Motors and Ford Motor Co. in revenue. Besides providing insurance to almost five million people in the state, BCBSM has made its presence felt in downtown Grand Rapids, Lansing and the Motor City as it invested millions in facilities and moved thousands of employees from suburban locations to those downtowns.

Read the rest of the article here.

CEO Dan Loepp’s “Rx Plan for A Healthier Michigan” Featured in DBusiness

Blue Cross’ efforts to strengthen Michigan’s core cities, build healthier communities and continue its mission of providing access to quality health care in a changing economic and regulatory landscape are spotlighted in a new 16-page supplement in the current issue of DBusiness magazine.

This special section, titled “Daniel Loepp’s Rx Plan For A Healthier Michigan,” appears in the November/December 2011 issue of DBusiness.

The supplement articulates the president and CEO’s vision for the company to lead Michigan to a future of good health, economic growth and prosperity. Its six stories include features on the Blues’ various partnerships with providers (including the patient-centered medical home program (PCMH), the nation’s largest program of its kind), how the company is preparing for federal health care reform, and the company’s efforts to strengthen the core cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

DBusiness is the most widely circulated monthly business publication in southeast Michigan, focusing on business leadership, innovation, industry trends and market forces shaping the regional economic climate.

New Downtown Lansing Offices: Strengthening our Commitment to Michigan’s Core Cities

Starting next week, downtown Lansing will be the home to an additional 300 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees. The ribbon was cut this morning by our CEO Dan Loepp with an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and members of the media. Some members of our team shared pictures to Twitter in real time this morning. Here are a few of those pictures:

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Our Lansing-based workforce is moving to downtown offices from a former suburban location.

The news media was also quick to pick up the story about our new Lansing location. Here is a sample of some of the headlines that posted today:

You can also listen to the recording of Dan Loepp’s interview with Mike Conley this morning on Lansing’s AM 1320 WILS.

Building a Stronger Michigan Starts at the Core

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in the Mackinac Policy Conference edition of the Michigan Chronicle.

Building a stronger body starts with developing the core muscles at the center of the body. The same holds true for building stronger metropolitan regions — developing the core urban center allows for stronger, more sustainable regional economies.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we believe that one of the keys to Michigan’s economic recovery is doing what we can to strengthen our cities.  By making our cities places of prosperity, we make the regions around them more competitive and hospitable to future growth.

Our company’s relocation of nearly 3,000 workers from the Detroit suburbs into the Renaissance Center is one of the ways we are seeking to strengthen not just the City of Detroit, but the region as well. With nearly 6,000 Blue Cross workers in the downtown business district by 2012, we hope to create the critical mass that attracts other companies to Metro Detroit from outside the region and the state.

Other companies — notably Compuware and Quicken Loans — were early leaders in moving workforces into downtown Detroit.  As more companies follow, we hope other businesses take notice that Detroit is, in fact, open for business.

The urbanization of Blue Cross’s workforce has been accelerating recently. In fact, by 2013, 97 percent of our statewide workforce will be located within the downtown cores of Michigan’s largest cities — Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. This has many strategic benefits to the Blue Cross enterprise. It will help us run our business better and realize significant cost savings at a time when both the competitive climate is more complex than ever and the cost of health care remains a leading concern for all our stakeholders. Our efforts also have major positive impacts for the cities in which we are investing.

Earlier this spring, Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., a BCBSM subsidiary, moved 620 employees into a gleaming new headquarters along the Grand River in downtown Lansing. This move came as a result of renovating a historic, but dilapidated power station in the heart of the city. It was a massive undertaking fueled by partnership across the public and private sectors. It gave Accident Fund room to grow by a projected 500 employees over the next decade.

As a result, Accident Fund’s downtown Lansing office building became vacant — so Blue Cross is moving in our workers from the suburbs. By the end of these moves, BCBSM will have more than 260 of our employees in downtown Lansing. Added to Accident Fund’s employee base, the BCBSM enterprise will eventually total more than 1,300 workers in Lansing’s central business district.

Our ability to make these investments in Detroit and Lansing began seven years ago when BCBSM renovated the old Steketee’s Department Store in downtown Grand Rapids and made it our West Michigan headquarters. Again, we moved our workers into the city center from suburban locations — and strengthened a key part of downtown Grand Rapids just as it was turning a corner. The area is now thriving.

Consolidation of our workforce in Michigan’s core cities will bring thousands of additional full-time jobs to those cities, while also adding millions of dollars in wages as well as property and income tax revenues. Our most recent action in Detroit, for example, will bring $180 million in BCBSM annual payroll into the city and add more than $3 million to the city tax rolls. In our renovation efforts alone, we are bringing $25 million in wages to Detroit and a significant portion of that will go to minority suppliers.

As the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing regions market themselves as viable destinations for companies looking to establish a presence in Michigan, they can now point to their downtowns as more vibrant, more enticing places.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan runs its business with a Michigan conscience. We want our state to grow and succeed, and we are proud to join other Michigan-based companies that believe vibrant urban centers are key to the growth and prosperity we all seek.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association national board, which represents 39 Blue plans covering nearly 100 million Americans.

Photos by ifmuth and stevendepolo.

The Long Road to Renaissance and the Evolution of Our Commitment to Michigan’s Core Cities

As I witness the completion of newly renovated Renaissance Center offices, the unfurling of banners and months of intensive planning become reality, I realize that I’ve never been more proud of what we’ve accomplished during my five years here as chief executive. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has officially opened its Renaissance Center offices for business, extending our downtown Detroit campus from Lafayette Boulevard to Detroit’s riverfront.

This week marks the beginning of a finale of a long and exciting journey for us here at BCBSM as we move the first of 3,000 employees from Southfield to Detroit. Coupled with the recent move of Accident Fund Holdings into its new Lansing headquarters, the journey feels especially symbolic, speaking both to Michigan’s past and its future.

The author cuts the ribbon on BCBSM's move to the Renaissance Center Monday. Loepp was joined at the event by (from left): Greg Sudderth, chairman of the BCBSM board of directors; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; and George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

As a native Detroiter who spent many years in Lansing, I confess that the gratification over developments these past few months has a personal side as well. As I’ve written before, I strongly believe that Detroit is on the path to a new prosperity.

Our plan to centralize operations in downtown Detroit is just the latest focus of a years-long process to consolidate our business enterprise in core cities across Michigan. The process, which includes renovating the vacant Steketees Building in downtown Grand Rapids as office space in 2004, reached a crescendo in March, when Accident Fund, our workers compensation subsidiary, unveiled its impressive 330,000 square-foot headquarters in a renovated, abandoned power plant along the Grand River in downtown Lansing.

While different in nature, the Renaissance Center and the Ottawa Street Power Station both hold powerful symbolism for their respective cities.

True to its name, the Renaissance Center was hailed as a way to revitalize Detroit, a “city within a city,” when it opened in 1977. Yet the complex was sometimes criticized as resembling a fortress, walled off from the greater city at large, and its occupancy dwindled over the years as the city continued its painful economic decline. General Motors, which has owned the RenCen since 1996, was considering pulling its corporate headquarters from the building just two short years ago, a move that would have been devastating to the city of Detroit.

Flash ahead to today, when GM has redoubled its commitment to staying put. Our own consolidation of workers in Towers 500 and 600, once completed, will push the complex’s occupancy rate to around 93 percent. Today’s RenCen benefits from GM’s $500 million renovation in 2004 and the subsequent development of the picturesque Detroit RiverWalk, which opened up the once-neglected riverfront to public access and summer festivals.

Opening up public access to the riverfront is also part of the equation at the Accident Fund’s gleaming new headquarters in downtown Lansing, a city that has also seen its share of hard times.

I can remember when the Ottawa Street Power Station was decommissioned in the early ‘90s and how the Art Deco building cut an impressive, if dispiriting, silhouette on the city’s skyline. The massive building in those years seemed like a symbol of a disappearing industrial era. Its gradual abandonment dovetailed with the steady de-industrialization of Lansing itself, as the iconic Oldsmobile brand that defined the city dissolved.

Today, the power plant is giving rise to a new knowledge-economy era in Michigan’s capital city, having undergone an ambitious renovation. And yes, people can now walk along the riverfront behind it.

Certainly neither Blue Cross nor Accident Fund can take all the credit for these projects or all the subsequent development that we believe they will set in motion. But they speak to the power of conviction and making strategic investment in places. There are examples all around.

GM’s investment in 2004 helped physically re-orient the RenCen to the city, introduced a new retail component to the complex and helped set the stage for the RiverWalk.

Compuware gave the former J.L. Hudson’s department store site its first tenant and brought thousands of workers downtown, which eventually begat Campus Martius, recognized as one of the nation’s finest urban green spaces.

One wonders what’s in store as Quicken Loans prepares plans to move employees into the Chase Tower just across from the park.

You hear a lot of talk nowadays about economic stimulus, and there’s little doubt that Michigan could use a hefty dose of it right about now. We think that stimulus should focus on rebuilding our great cities, and we welcome our friends and business partners to join us.

It promises to be an exciting ride.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Photo by the Detroit Regional News Hub.