CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Board of Directors has selected President and COO Bill Gracey to succeed CEO Vicky Gregg, who will retire effective Dec. 31, 2012.

Gregg joined BlueCross in 1995, serving in several leadership posts before being named CEO in 2003. Gracey began his current role at BlueCross in October 2010.

According to Lamar Partridge, chairman of the board for BlueCross, Gregg will leave an indelible imprint from her decade-long tenure as CEO.

"Under her leadership our membership and service capabilities have grown significantly, further advancing our position as the state’s trusted leader in health care coverage,” Partridge said." Her commitment to this 10-month leadership transition illustrates thoughtful consideration for the future of this valued organization.

"As we move forward, the board is confident that Bill is the right person at the right time. He has proven himself as a leader in the health care industry and in our company."

In his new role effective Jan. 1, 2013, Gracey will assume responsibility for all aspects of BlueCross activities. He will oversee the company’s strategic direction with the goals of successfully transitioning to full implementation of the new health care reform law and addressing members’ need for affordable, quality health care coverage.

"Over the past year and a half, Bill and I have worked to forge a strategy for moving the company forward in this quickly evolving health care landscape," said Gregg. "Bill’s depth of health care industry experience and unique grasp of market dynamics will be a great asset to our members and the company as we navigate the future."

"I’m honored to receive the board’s confidence to carry on the leadership of this great resource in the lives of millions of Tennesseans," Gracey said. "I’m excited to work with them and the 5,300 dedicated employees at BlueCross to continue our mission of delivering affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living.”

Prior to joining BlueCross as COO, Gracey spent most of his 35-year career as a leader in the health care industry in Tennessee. Most recently, he was executive vice president and COO of Nashville-based Lifepoint Hospitals, a 52-hospital system with 23,000 employees and 2,500 physicians in 17 states.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.