L.A. Care Health Plan CEO John Baackes to Retire at End of 2024

John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO

Nation’s Largest Publicly-Operated Health Plan Commences Search for Next Leader

Los Angeles  — L.A. Care Health Plan announced today that its long-standing Chief Executive Officer John Baackes will retire at the end of 2024 and the organization has begun a search for his successor. Baackes has led L.A. Care for the past nine years, helping the agency deliver on its mission to serve low-income and vulnerable populations and to support the safety net upon which these populations rely. Baackes’ deep commitment to L.A. Care, its members, provider partners, employees and the broader Los Angeles community is reflected in the organization’s exponential growth and expansion of services over the past decade.

During Baackes’ extensive tenure with L.A. Care, the organization secured its position as a national leader in promoting equitable healthcare for low-income patients and a catalyst for community transformation. Baackes helped spearhead and sustain a number of significant initiatives, including among other achievements: expanding L.A. Care’s directly-contracted network of physicians; establishing a grading and incentivization system that holds physicians accountable for quality care; expanding from four to 14 community resource centers throughout Los Angeles County; launching a scholarship program for medical school students committed to practicing in underserved communities; and developing a school loan repayment program for physicians who establish their medical practice within disadvantaged communities.

“I am proud of all that we have accomplished at L.A. Care during my time with this pioneering agency and am eager to watch it continue to grow and evolve to meet our community’s health needs,” said Baackes. “I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with my L.A. Care team, the Board of Governors, and numerous L.A. County and statewide leaders during my time at the helm of this great organization.”

Baackes joined L.A. Care in 2015, bringing with him decades of healthcare experience. Before joining L.A. Care, he served as President of Philadelphia-based AmeriHealth Caritas VIP Plans where he oversaw the Medicare Advantage business unit. Prior to that, Baackes was CEO of Senior Whole Health in Cambridge, MA, a voluntary health care plan for more than 10,000 low-income seniors in Massachusetts and New York.

“We are grateful for John’s visionary leadership and dedication to L.A. Care’s mission, as well as his meaningful collaboration with his colleagues and the broad network of partners that make our organization great,” said Al Ballesteros, chair of L.A. Care’s Board of Governors. “John’s innovative thinking, steadfast pursuit of strategic imperatives and careful stewardship of this agency has prepared us for a bright future.”

Baackes will continue to work closely in the coming months with L.A. Care’s Board of Governors to ensure a seamless leadership transition. L.A. Care has commenced a national search for Baackes’ successor, intent on selecting a dynamic leader who will help carry on his impactful legacy and blaze new trails for the agency.

“We join John in prioritizing a smooth and strategic succession in leadership,” added Ballesteros. “Our priority is to identify a successor who will continue John’s work fostering strong relationships with the community and ensuring the Plan is responsive to the needs of the diverse residents of Los Angeles County. Like John, L.A. Care’s next leader will have a strong moral compass and possess the operational savvy to help this agency adapt to the shifting tides in the healthcare ecosystem.”

The Board of Governors has retained Furst Group for a national search for the CEO role. Furst Group is ranked as one of Modern Healthcare’s 10 largest executive search firms and one of America’s Best Executive Search Firms by Forbes. Confidential inquiries and questions can be directed to the Furst Group via their website at furstgroup.com.