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Lifetime Healthcare names Booth to succeed retiring Klein as CEO

Lifetime Healthcare Companies, the parent of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in Rochester and Univera Healthcare in Buffalo, has named its No. 2 executive as CEO-elect to succeed its longtime head, David Klein, who will retire at the end of the year.

Christopher C. Booth will become the CEO of the Rochester-based company as of Jan. 1, 2013. He will oversee the $6.2 billion nonprofit holding company that provides both health insurance and health care across upstate New York.

"The best companies have orderly transitions, and this one is as good as it gets," said board chairman Randall Clark. Booth "has a deep understanding of our business needs and mission. Our company will be in steady hands, and our communities will be well served by his leadership."

Booth, a resident of Pittsford, has been president of the Excellus health plan division since March 2011. He was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the entire company in January 2010.

He joined the company in 2004 as chief administrative officer and general counsel, and was promoted to executive vice president for commercial markets and health care affairs in January 2009.

But he has spent more than two decades working with the company, including as an attorney and chairman of the health practice at Albany law firm Hinman Straub PC, the company's outside legal counsel. He led the team that formed the corporation's legal structure as it absorbed several acquisitions.

Today, Lifetime provides health insurance coverage to 1.8 million people across 39 counties, and employs more than 6,500 people through Excellus Health Plan, its primary subsidiary, and affiliates. Excellus operates both Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the dominant health plan in Rochester, and Univera, the No. 3 health plan in the Buffalo market.

"It's an honor to lead such a talented upstate workforce of people who provide care and coverage for their neighbors," Booth said. "Whether federal health care reforms are upheld or not, we must work collaboratively with those who provide care and those who pay for it. Our mutual goals are high-quality care and making coverage as affordable as possible."

email: jepstein@buffnews.com