DOJ: News Release

Attorney General Fox Introduces Montana Healthcare Foundation Board Members

Attorney General Fox Introduces Montana Healthcare Foundation Board Members

This afternoon, Attorney General Tim Fox announced and introduced the members of the Montana Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“I join my fellow Montanans in thanking these new board members for their willingness to step forward and take the helm of the Montana Healthcare Foundation,” Attorney General Fox said. “I know we’re all looking forward to the great work that the foundation will do to improve health care in our state.”

The foundation’s board members are:

Dr. Paul R. Cook of Red Lodge
Dr. Cook is the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Education at Montana State University Billings. As such, he is responsible for establishing an on-campus component for a Master’s Degree program in Health Administration. Prior to being named Director, Paul served for five years as President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Network, which is associated with Saint Vincent Healthcare. Paul is an officer and board member of Billings Wellbeing Institute, a board member of the Montana BioScience Alliance, the Montana Health Forum, and the Global Health Equity Foundation.

Michael V. Harrington of Missoula
Michael is an associate professor of management at the University of Montana School of Business Administration, which he joined in 2003. He served as Associate Dean of that school for ten years. Professor Harrington is a member of the Montana Society of CPAs, the State Bar of Montana, and the Washington State Bar Association. He practiced law in the Bellevue, Washington office of Davis Wright Tremaine, an international law firm, and he held various legal and business positions in Butte with The Montana Power Company and later with Touch America, Inc. For approximately nine years, Professor Harrington has been a member of the Board of Directors of First Security Bank of Missoula.

Judith LaPlan of Sidney
Judith has been the administrator of the Richland County Health Department since 1997. She was one of the founding members of the Montana Association of Public Health Officials and served as its first president. She was a member of the Montana Public Health Improvement Task Force from 2001 to 2011, and served as its chair for more than seven years. She is a member of the governing/advisory boards of the Montana Health Eastern Area Authority, the State Emergency Response Committee, the Seventh Judicial District Adult Treatment Court, the Accreditation and Quality Improvement Committee, and the Richland County Strategic Plan Steering Committee.

Joanne M. Pieper of Belgrade
Joanne is a former Senior Vice President of New York Life Insurance Company. She served in the Company’s New York City home office in a variety of positions during her 28-year career. As Senior Vice President, Joanne oversaw the design, marketing, and administration of group programs for medical, life, and disability insurance. After retiring, she relocated to Montana where she has been a leader in civic and philanthropic activities for the past 17 years. She served as President of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the Rockies and was a participant in Governor Martz’s task force that studied the problem of uninsured Montana citizens. She served a term as a member of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s editorial board, and is currently a member of the Haven Women’s Shelter capital campaign committee.

Denis J. Prager of Clyde Park
Dr. Prager has been the principal of Strategic Consulting Services since 1994. He has advised many of the foundations formed from the conversion of nonprofit health plans to for-profit entities. He provided consulting services to the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, the Archstone Foundation, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Prior to relocating to Montana, Denis was with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, first as Deputy Director, then as Director of the Foundation’s Health Program. Denis also has served as Assistant Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a U.S. Public Health Service Fellow at Stanford University, and in various capacities with the National Institutes of Health. Since relocating to Montana, Denis has served (or is serving) as a member of the Board of Directors of Livingston Healthcare and other Montana non-profits.

William P. Underriner of Billings
William has been the owner of Underriner Motors in Billings since 2001. He has served in leadership roles of the Montana Automobile Dealers Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association, where he oversaw a $130 million investment portfolio. William has served as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Helena Branch, chairman of the Saint Vincent Hospital Foundation Board, board member of the American Cancer Society Western United States, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Billings Chamber of Commerce, President of United Way of Yellowstone County, and with other service organizations.

Mignon R. Waterman of Helena
Mignon served as a Montana State Senator for twelve years. There she was a member of the Public Health, Welfare and Safety Subcommittee and the Mental Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. She also chaired the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee. Mignon was a founding member of the Helena Local Advisory Council on Mental Health and served on the Mental Health Oversight Advisory Council for four years. She was also a member of the Helena Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Steering Committee and worked to develop a mental health crisis system for Lewis & Clark and surrounding counties. Additionally, Mignon has served as Secretary-Treasury of St. Peter’s Hospital Board of Directors and was a member of St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. Her other public service Includes Chair of the Helena School District No.1 Board of Trustees, President of the Montana School Boards Association, and member of the Montana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Attorney General Fox formed the Montana Healthcare Foundation after he and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen approved the limited acquisition of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana’s insurance portfolio assets by Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC). State law required the Attorney General to distribute the transaction’s $40.2 million purchase proceeds directly to a non-profit foundation whose mission is to improve the quality, availability, and awareness of healthcare programs and services for Montanans. In order to best fulfill that responsibility, the Attorney General’s Office created a new non-profit organization, which is a 501(c)(3) charity with an independent board of directors. The Attorney General’s approval of the conversion transaction also required HCSC to create at least 100 new jobs in Montana, which HCSC is fulfilling with the establishment of a call center in Great Falls.

Earlier this month and after reviewing 100 applications, Interim Trustee Ed Eck and search committee members Karen Fagg and James Soft nominated the seven aforementioned individuals for the board. In accordance with state law, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the nominees meet the statutory requirements for the new foundation’s board members.

The Montana Healthcare Foundation is a non-governmental entity. Its mission is to improve the quality, availability, and awareness of healthcare programs and services for Montanans.

Additional Resources:
• Download a print-quality photo of the new board members (media outlets have permission to use the photo with attribution to Montana Attorney General’s Office).
• Visit the Montana Health Care Foundation’s website.

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