No matter who wins next year's presidential election, it's a sure bet that the new leader will want to tinker with the Affordable Care Act, says Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel J. Hilferty.

And when it happens, Hilferty wants to be at the table. "From a Blue insurers' perspective, we want it to work," said Hilferty, who, effective immediately, will become board chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of America.

The job, while unpaid, comes with clout.

The association provides health insurance to 105 million people, or a third of the nation, through 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield member companies, including Independence, this region's largest insurer.

Hilferty will stay as Independence's CEO.

He said he enjoys "being active in the public policy debate."

"Instead of running away from it, I kind of leaned in to have the opportunity," said Hilferty, who had chaired the group's public policy committee.

"We have to make sure to work closely at the congressional level, with the administration, with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to have input into the way [care] will be delivered."

Hilferty said Independence was an early backer of the act, which provides new plans for individuals - this year's sign-up ended Thursday - and an expansion of Medicaid in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey that have approved it.

"Is it perfect?" Hilferty asked. "No one would say it's perfect. We want to make sure we figure out a way to help government working with the private sector make sure the program is sustainable."

Hilferty also serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of America's Health Insurance Plans, the powerful industry trade group.

"Dan's proven record as a champion of innovation and his strategic vision for the future of health care are assets not only for Independence Blue Cross members, but for the Blues nationwide," association CEO Scott P. Serota said in a statement.

Hilferty's one-year term begins immediately. It can be renewed by a board vote.

More than 95 percent of the nation's hospitals accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance, along with 92 percent of the nation's doctors. The association is based in Chicago.

Independence covers 10 million people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including 2.5 million people in the region, the insurers' website says. Hilferty became the chief executive in 2010 after heading Independence's Medicaid business.

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