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Ambres resigning top health care post

HealthNow New York, the Buffalo-based parent of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, said Tuesday that the company's chief medical officer is resigning voluntarily because she is unable to be effective enough locally while maintaining her primary home in California.

Dr. Cynthia A. Ambres, a longtime figure in the Buffalo medical and health insurance communities, will step down as senior vice president as of March 2, according to an internal announcement from HealthNow CEO Alphonso O'Neil-White that was later issued to the media.

The company did not indicate who would succeed her but said Ambres would assist in the transition.

Ambres is a former executive vice president and chief medical officer at Kaleida Health, and was also a senior executive at Lifetime Health Medical Group and Ernst & Young's Health Care Consulting Group. She also had a previous stint as chief medical officer at HealthNow from 1998 to 2000.

Ambres, who founded her own consulting firm, joined HealthNow in August 2009 "with the understanding that she would fulfill her responsibilities as chief medical officer while maintaining her residence in California," O'Neil-White said in the memo. He noted that she did remain connected "to key internal and external constituents," while also traveling regularly to maintain a physical presence.

But that will likely become more challenging because of the issues posed by the federal health care overhaul and increasing competition, so Ambres believed that "the geographic distance would limit her impact," O'Neil-White wrote.