With an eye on the people who need help the most, Bill Milnes serves with compassion and distinction as president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and The Vermont Health Plan, its affiliate HMO, and chairman of Comprehensive Benefit Administrators.
Milnes was awarded the Blue Cross and Blue Shield National Association’s Turnaround Award in 2003 for completing a financial recovery of the virtually bankrupt BCBSVT Company he joined as CEO in 1998. Under his leadership, BCBS of Vermont and The Vermont Health Plan have been designated by U.S. News & World Reports as among the top 50 health plans in the United States in both 2006 and 2007. Preserved under his guidance as a strong, independent company, BCBSVT has become a leader and a model of how businesses can support their communities and improve the lives of the people they serve.
For example, BCBSVT annually purchases all of the influenza vaccine that is distributed at no cost to the state’s most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people with serious medical conditions. It also maintains five community advisory boards to identify and direct health education, promotion and improvement activities in towns and cities across the state. The company also was named among the Best Places to Work in Vermont in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the company received the Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence from the Vermont Council for Quality Improvement.
In 2006, Milnes helped raise one million dollars to establish a charitable foundation, The Vermont Caring for Children Foundation and now serves as chairman of the foundation. It raises and distributes money annually for community-based programs specifically focused on improving the health of the state’s children. In recognition of its extensive and sometimes groundbreaking work in community health improvement, BCBSVT received the prestigious Community Leadership Award from America’s Health Insurance Plans, the commercial insurance industry’s largest trade association.
Former West Principal Al Burr remembers Milnes as an effective and unique leader as a student. “The thing that set him apart from others was the way he always looked out for the underdog,” Burr says. “Even then, Bill had a remarkable relationship with other students who needed help of one kind or another. Now sitting at the top of the corporate chain, Bill is still looking out for people in need.”
Milnes previously held senior executive positions with several BCBS plans, including Anthem in 1995- 98 as senior vice president; Community Mutual Insurance Company in 1985-95 as executive vice president of corporate services and CFO; Hospital Care Corp in 1982-85 as corporate senior vice president and CFO; and, the St. Louis Blue Cross Plan in 1974-82 as vice president of finance. Early in his career, he worked with Monsanto and the Chrysler Corp. From 1968-70, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, he received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration in 1968, and later earned an M.B.A. in finance in 1971. He also attended the Health Care Institute of Michigan and the management development program of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his C.P.A. in Missouri in 1980.