WPS News



Paul Ross saluted for Operation Fan Mail

12/28/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Army Sgt. First Class Paul Ross during Sunday’s Packers-Lions game for Operation Fan Mail.

Ross, who is originally from Peoria, Illinois, knew at a young age that he wanted to join the military and be a Green Beret. After enlisting in the National Guard, Ross transferred to the Army a few years later, and following the events of 9/11, he began working toward his goal of joining the Special Forces.

Ross has served in the Army for 19 years, the past 10 of which have been spent in the Special Forces. He has been deployed several times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait while serving as a Special Forces Communications Non-Commissioned Officer, Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant, and Special Forces Mountaineering Instructor.

Ross has received several awards, including the Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and a Senior Parachutist’s Badge.

Ross currently serves at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where he trains, prepares and manages a 12-man Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha or “A-Team.” Until recently, he was deployed to Afghanistan, but was able to return to Wisconsin this fall. He attended the game with his wife, Mary, his mother, Sue, and brother, Mike.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 73 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Patrick Stamm saluted Monday for Operation Fan Mail

12/8/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Army Lt. Col. Patrick Stamm during Monday’s Packers-Falcons game for Operation Fan Mail.

Stamm, whose family is originally from Markesan, Wisconsin, grew up in a military family, as his father was an F-4 fighter pilot in Vietnam. Stamm was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1993, and served in both Germany and Bosnia. He re-entered civilian life in 1999; however, after 9/11, Patrick decided to rejoin the military and work as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer.

Following graduation from EOD School, he served in multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. His final tour in Iraq was an exceptionally challenging 15-month deployment in which he coordinated U.S. efforts to counter improvised explosive device attacks.

Stamm has received the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal, both with one oak leaf cluster, as well as the Master EOD Badge and the basic Airborne Parachutist Badge. Stamm is currently stationed at Fort Lee in Virginia, where he serves as the Deputy Director of the EOD Directorate.

Next year, after 22 years in the military, Stamm plans to retire. He and his wife, Marcia, have been married for 22 years and have two sons, Zachary and Jacob, and a daughter, Sophia.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Brandon Mills saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

11/30/2014

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Marine Corps Captain Brandon Mills during Sunday’s Packers-Patriots game for Operation Fan Mail.

Mills, originally from Decatur, Tennessee, joined the Marines in 2004. He served as the Battalion Logistics Officer for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, and was responsible for the sustainment and maintenance of the battalion. He deployed to Afghanistan with this battalion in 2012 and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding service in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

He also served two tours in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and has received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Mills is currently serving at the Pentagon as the Marine White House Liaison Officer for the Secretary of the Navy. In this role, he manages the Presidential Support Program and conducts research and provides responses to Marine Corps related inquiries submitted to the White House on behalf of the President.

Mills and his wife, Nora, have been married seven years and have two sons, Andersen and Nathan.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Danielle and Shane McDowell saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

11/17/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to the McDowell family during Sunday’s Packers-Eagles game for Operation Fan Mail.

Air Force Technical Sgt. Danielle McDowell and her husband, Technical Sgt. Shane McDowell, are both currently stationed in Ramstein, Germany, at the Ramstein Air Base.

Danielle McDowell, originally from Tigerton, Wisconsin, has been in the Air Force for 12 years and recently returned to Germany from Kabul, which was her fifth deployment overall and her third to Afghanistan. At their home station in Germany, McDowell is the non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of Outbound Assignments, where she reviews and approves all orders for active-duty members to change duty locations from Ramstein. She was honored as Airman of the Year while stationed in Portugal in 2006 and has earned several Air Force achievement and commendation medals.

Shane McDowell, originally from Cullman, Alabama, has been in the Air Force for 15 years. He has served in four overseas assignments, deploying once to Kyrgyzstan. He currently serves as the NCOIC of the Emergency Management Contingency Operations training site located at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany and has earned several Air Force achievement and commendation medals. The Packers-Eagles matchup on Sunday was his first time at an NFL game.

The McDowell family was home in Wisconsin for a visit and attended the game with Danielle’s parents, Mark and Joan Carlson.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Kimmerling saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

11/9/2014

Master Sgt. Will Frederick and family saluted for Operation Fan Mail

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Sgt. Michael Kimmerling during Sunday’s Packers-Bears game for Operation Fan Mail.

Kimmerling, originally from Phelps, Wisconsin, enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2006 and graduated from the School of Infantry – West as a meritorious lance corporal and machine gunner.

After his first two deployments to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009, he re-enlisted and attended Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) School in February of 2011. After graduating, he spent two deployments in Afghanistan as an EOD Technician in 2012 and 2014, where he worked to locate, assess, neutralize and dispose of high-yield explosives, hazards and weapons of mass destruction.

He recently returned to the U.S. from his fourth deployment, his third spent in Afghanistan, and is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. He has received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat V, as well as the Combat Action Ribbon, and has won the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal twice.

Kimmerling, who was scheduled to arrive back in Wisconsin soon, returned early to surprise his wife, Cassie, at Lambeau Field prior to Sunday’s game. They are expecting their first child soon and will be returning to California together after their son is born.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


WPS adding staff for five-year VA project

11/05/2014

Hiring eventually could reach 280 in Wisconsin

WPS is doing a significant hiring wave for its Wausau office as part of a new program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

WPS currently is a subcontractor for TriWest Healthcare Alliance of Phoenix for the Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program in 28 states. The partnership is expanding for implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), which allows eligible veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting more than 30 days for a VA appointment or traveling more than 40 miles to a VA medical facility.

As part of the new program, veterans enrolled with the VA will receive a new Choice Card that allows them to seek care outside of the VA under certain conditions. The massive mailing begins this month and will continue until January 2015.

For its part of the project, WPS will be issuing the Choice Cards, processing claims and providing customer service functions for the program for five years.

WPS expects to hire approximately 100 employees in Wausau in November for the Choice Card program. Hiring could reach 280 employees with about 250 of them in Wausau and the rest in Madison.

“WPS is growing in Wausau as a result of this new work on behalf of our veterans, who are among our closest customers,” said WPS President and CEO Mike Hamerlik. “We continuously look for great opportunities like this to obtain contracts to leverage our skills and add more jobs.”

“WPS welcomes the opportunity to work with TriWest in serving veterans as they obtain medical care through this important program,” said WPS Executive Vice President Brian Brugger. “We’re eager to add staff to accomplish this mission for the VA. This project complements other vital work we do to serve veterans through government contracts.”

About PC3

Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) is a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) nationwide program that offers health care contracts to provide eligible veterans access to primary care; inpatient specialty care; outpatient specialty care; mental health care; limited emergency care; and limited newborn care for enrolled female veterans following the birth of a child.

Under PC3, VHA contracts to develop a network of providers who deliver the covered care. Care is available through PC3 when the local VA Medical Center cannot readily provide the needed care to veterans due to lack of available specialists, long wait times, geographic inaccessibility, or other factors.


Garrett Thomas saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

10/20/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Navy Officer Garrett Thomas during Sunday’s Packers-Panthers game for “Operation Fan Mail.”

Thomas, originally from Madison, completed his ROTC training through the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned his commission as an active-duty naval officer in May 2011.

He has completed two overseas deployments, one of which was a seven-month deployment off the coast of Somalia, conducting counter-piracy operations in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. Most recently, in 2014, he completed a 7 1/2-month deployment in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations that consisted of assisting in the search for missing Malaysian Flight MH370 and conducting military exercises with Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Thomas now serves as the anti-submarine warfare officer, overseeing 15 sailors to monitor sonar and weapons systems, as well as the ship’s tactical maneuvering. He also serves as command legal officer and advises over 300 sailors on both civilian and military legal concerns. Stationed in San Diego, Thomas returned from his most recent deployment just in time for the beginning of football season. An avid Packers fan, Thomas attended Sunday’s game with his wife Michelle, with whom he recently celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary, and their friends Kyle and Autumn DeMus.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Starion Financial signs agreement to purchase WPS Community Bank

10/15/2014

Bank customers to get added convenience

Starion Financial, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., with community banks in Middleton and Sun Prairie, Wis., has signed a definitive agreement to purchase WPS Community Bank of Madison, Wis. WPS Community Bank is scheduled to come under the Starion Financial name in the first quarter of 2015 pending regulatory approval.

Craig Larson, Starion president/CEO, said, “The acquisition is a win-win for WPS and Starion Financial.

We are excited to have the opportunity to acquire such a successful, well-run community bank. Starion has been looking at community banks in the Madison market to expand our presence and increase our commitment to the community. We are proud to have served our Madison customers since 2006 and look forward to a great future serving WPS Bank customers.”

WPS’s decision to sell the bank comes at a time when the bank is a highly valued asset and the market is good for purchases and sales of banks. The divesture of the bank allows WPS to continue to invest in growing and innovating in our core business, and gives the bank the opportunity it deserves to grow and succeed.

“WPS Community Bank is a financially sound, healthy organization, making it an attractive expansion opportunity for Starion,” said Mike Hamerlik, President and CEO of WPS Health Insurance. “A major deciding factor in the selection was that the Starion culture is a perfect fit with our bank and its customers. WPS Bank will enjoy even more opportunities to thrive under Starion’s wing.”

Starion Financial will provide WPS Community Bank customers additional convenient branches in Middleton and Sun Prairie, sophisticated products and services, and higher lending limits that will allow for major financing projects to be kept local.

The purchase will require approval by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions. The transaction is expected to be final in the first quarter of 2015.

In 1969, the Larson family purchased First National Bank of Oakes (N.D.), chartered in 1886. The family-owned community bank experienced strong growth before expanding to Madison in 2006 and Sun Prairie in 2013. In the past six years, Starion doubled its assets and has grown into a $1 billion “supercommunity” bank, with 14 locations in nine cities and serving thousands of customers throughout Wisconsin and North Dakota. The bank has built its reputation on integrity, personalized service, local decision-making and community involvement.

Founded in January 2009, WPS Community Bank has built $100 million in total assets with one location providing personalized banking services to individuals and small to mid-size businesses in Dane County, Wis. The bank recently was named for the eighth straight quarter as a Five-Star Superior Institution by BauerFinancial, Inc., an independent bank rating agency. The bank is a subsidiary of Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation (WPS). WPS, the parent company of WPS Community Bank, is a nationally regarded government contractor and Wisconsin’s leading not-for-profit health insurer. Oak Ridge Financial acted as exclusive financial adviser to WPS Insurance Corporation.


WPS MedicareRx plans win 5-star ratin

10/13/2014

These are the highest-rated Part D plans in Wisconsin

The WPS MedicareRx prescription drug plans are the highest-rated Part D plans in Wisconsin, and the only plans in the state to earn 5 stars out of 5, according to the 2015 ratings recently announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The ratings take into consideration such factors as:

  • Customer service
  • Member complaints and Medicare audit findings
  • Member experience with drug plan
  • Drug pricing and patient safety

WPS is the leading not-for-profit Medicare Part D plan provider in Wisconsin, serving more than 24,000 enrollees, according to CMS data from March 2014.

The new 5-star rating means people can switch to the WPS MedicareRx plans any time during the year, not just during the annual enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

“The 5-star rating is a testament to WPS’ commitment to quality and customer service,” said Jim Baird, Vice President, Individual Sales. “Though quite difficult to achieve, it is a great honor to be recognized as the only company offering 5-star Part D prescription drug plans in Wisconsin.”

Information for the ratings comes from member surveys, reviews of billing, and other information that plans submit to Medicare, and from Medicare's regular monitoring activities. Part D plans help cover the cost of prescription medications for Medicare enrollees.

CMS rates health and drug plans annually to ensure they meet Medicare's quality standards, and encourages Medicare beneficiaries to compare and choose plans based on these ratings.

For more information on the Part D plan ratings, go to www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.


Terry Mercier saluted for Operation Fan Mail

10/3/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Army Capt. Terry Mercier from Powers, Michigan, during Thursday’s Packers-Vikings game for Operation Fan Mail.

Mercier entered into military service in June of 1996 and was assigned as a mechanized infantry team leader at his first duty station in Schweinfurt, Germany. He was then deployed in support of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. After exiting service in 2000 and meeting his wife, Nycole, he re-entered military service in 2005 as an Army sergeant. He was commissioned as an active-duty medical service corps officer in 2008 and worked as a medical platoon leader and executive officer at Fort Carson, Colorado. During his time as commissioned officer, Mercier conducted two deployments to Iraq.

Over his 16-year military career, Mercier has received numerous awards for leadership and valor, including a Meritorious Service Medal and an Army Good Conduct Medal.

A devoted Packers fan, Mercier also established a satellite connection on base during his last tour overseas that allowed him and his fellow soldiers to watch NFL games. Mercier is now completing his administrative residency at the Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning in Georgia and is an active-duty medical service corps officer.

Mercier and Nycole have three daughters, Alyssa, Aryanna and Gianna. Mercier attended the game on Thursday with Nycole, Alyssa and his mother, Joni.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Jon Williams saluted for Operation Fan Mail

09/14/2014

Special program recognizes active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Williams during Sunday’s Packers-Jets game for Operation Fan Mail.

Williams, from Franklin, Indiana, has been a lifelong Packers fan and since joining the Army, he has lived with his family in South Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado and Indiana. As of September, he has been on active duty for a total of 14 years.

During his time on active duty, he has been deployed twice on year-long deployments to Afghanistan. He has also served as a drill sergeant and noncommissioned officer academy instructor. Williams is currently the noncommissioned officer in charge of the S2 shop, as well as an Army motorcycle safety instructor.

Williams attended the game with his wife, Cynthia, with whom he just celebrated 14 years of marriage, and their two daughters, Hannah and Kialey.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 72 families have been recognized through the program thus far.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS. Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.


Packers, WPS Health Insurance present 'Operation Fan Mail' for 2014

8/7/2014

Program recognizes military families on Lambeau Field in pregame

Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families at each Packers home game, will mark its eighth season in 2014, and the sixth year it has been presented by WPS Health Insurance.

The program, which debuted in 2007, is designed to honor families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2014 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 65 families have been saluted during the past six seasons.

“We are honored to have the privilege of recognizing military families for an eighth year,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “These brave men and women, along with their families, make countless sacrifices for our freedom, and we’re happy to welcome them to Lambeau Field and salute them with our fans.”

“Operation Fan Mail brings much-deserved recognition for our military families, and we are proud to partner with the Green Bay Packers in sponsoring this outstanding program,” said Ellen Foley, senior vice president of corporate communications at WPS Health Insurance. “It’s wonderful to see the selected military personnel honored on the field before the games. And it’s very powerful to read the stories of these dedicated men and women, including the sacrifices they have made for our freedom, and the support they have received from their families,” she said.

The Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular family should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Submit online at: http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail/

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling. Purple Heart recipients are also eligible for recognition, even if they cannot return to active service status.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families will receive four tickets to the game and a $150 Packers Pro Shop gift card courtesy of WPS.


WPS selects Kerra Guffey as chief information office

8/6/2014

She has diverse experience in information technology management and the health care industry

Kerra Guffey has joined WPS as chief information officer. Her career in technology and the health care industry spans more than 25 years.

Before coming to WPS, she was chief information officer for Meriter Health Services in Madison from July 2007 until November 2013, when she was named chief operating officer of Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation, which was owned by Meriter at the time.

She came to Meriter from Memorial Health System in Springfield, IL, where she was hired as vice president of internal audit and compliance and later was promoted to senior vice president and chief information officer in September 2003.

Earlier in her career, Kerra was an IT consultant and internal audit manager with Deloitte & Touche Enterprise Risk Services group in Costa Mesa, CA. Her clients included several large insurance companies, health maintenance organizations and health care systems.

Previously, she had roles in finance, accounting, and network development for Sparrow Physicians Health Network, Sparrow Health System, and United Healthcare for Physicians Health Plan, in Lansing, Michigan. She also worked as a certified public accountant in Illinois, providing external audit services to health care, manufacturing, and nonprofit clients.

A graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Kerra earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California in Irvine with concentrations in IT management and finance. She also earned a certificate in biomedical informatics at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR.

She has been active in many organizations, including the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). She is a past Board Chair for the Wisconsin Epic User Group (WIEUG). She has been an Advisory Board member for the CIO Fusion and Digital Healthcare Conferences held annually in Madison.


Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies challenged in courts

7/23/2014

On July 22, two conflicting federal court decisions were made regarding the legality of federal subsidies for low- and middle-income people who bought health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM), or Exchange, in certain states, including Wisconsin.

WPS Health Insurance customers are not affected by these rulings as WPS health plans were not sold on the Marketplace. Therefore, WPS customers do not need to worry about their current policies or coverage.

Court cases

In the first case (Halbig v. Burwell), a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, 2-1, that the Affordable Care Act allows subsidies only for insurance purchases made through state-run Exchanges, not the federal Exchange.

In the second case (King v. Burwell), a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously ruled in favor of the government on the same issue, thus upholding the subsidies.

Questions?

WPS Health Insurance remains focused on ensuring stability, affordability, and accessibility for its customers and is committed to customer care.

WPS members who have questions or concerns may call WPS Customer Service using the number on the back of their member ID card.


WPS partners with Naviant to improve Medicare workflow

5/1/2014

Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation (WPS) today announced a strategic partnership with Naviant, Inc. to bring enterprise content management and streamlined workflow processes to its operation as a Medicare Administrative Contractor for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

WPS has purchased OnBase by Hyland, a best-in-class enterprise content and case management system.

“By teaming with a top Hyland channel partner like Naviant, we’re finding important synergies that will help us make our Medicare operation more efficient,” said Jay Martinson, Executive Vice President of Medicare for WPS. “We’re just starting to see significant improvements after completing a successful pilot program.”

WPS and Naviant are designing a new electronic workflow and implementing the case management system that will affect all business units across the WPS Medicare division.

The OnBase pilot program in the Provider Enrollment unit at WPS produced significant improvements in productivity, comparing January 2014 to January 2014.

  • Part A: 149% productivity increase in applications processed
  • Part B: 49% increase
WPS engaged Eightfold Consulting, a business process re-engineering company, to evaluate the OnBase implementation in Provider Enrollment.

"WPS and Naviant built a very good product," said Kevin Erickson, Principal of the Fargo, N.D.-based consulting firm. "We have not seen a better implementation for this type of work."

The evaluation notes sophisticated workload management capabilities as well as a streamlined user interface that takes advantage of the latest OnBase features to speed processing and improve quality.

Development of the solution throughout the WPS Medicare operation began in April with implementation set for September.

OnBase is a flexible and comprehensive enterprise content management system that helps organizations manage documents and data in streamlined business operations. OnBase supports case management and empowers organizations to handle knowledge-driven work.


WPS wins important contract renewal

7/18/2014

WPS has received an important contract renewal from the federal government to continue administering military health insurance benefits.

Formally known as the TRICARE Dual Eligible Fiscal Intermediary Contract (TDEFIC), it serves beneficiaries who are eligible for the TRICARE For Life program. The current WPS contract for this program ran through June 30, 2014.

Under the new contract, WPS will administer TRICARE For Life for the next six years. This means WPS will be able to retain many employees who work on the TRICARE business.

“This is a major success story for WPS,” said Brian Brugger, executive vice president of the WPS TRICARE Division. “TRICARE is an important part of our business at WPS, and we worked very hard to retain this contract. The quality of our workforce was a key reason that the government wants WPS to continue as a major contractor for TRICARE.”

President and CEO Mike Hamerlik said winning this contract will help secure the future of WPS.

“We are keenly focused on finding innovative ways to adapt to a changing insurance environment,” he said. “At WPS, we have been making significant investments in new technology and processes to meet the needs of our customers, including the federal government. We have visionary plans to move forward as a company, and winning this contract proves we’re on the right track. We will continue to seek new government contracts when there’s a good match with our capabilities,” he said.

"Our TRICARE employees deserve a round of applause from all of us for prevailing in this increasingly competitive business. WPS plans to be a partner with TDEFIC for a long time,” Hamerlik said.

Other companies that were vying for the contract might protest the award, but Brugger said WPS is confident that the award will be affirmed.

Although the rebidding competition officially started in April 2013, WPS has been preparing since it received the current contract in 2007, Brugger said.

“We have strengthened the relationship with the Defense Health Agency (which manages TRICARE contracts on behalf of the Department of Defense) to understand their needs. We committed ourselves to ensuring those eligible for the TRICARE For Life benefit receive the highest level of service because they have sacrificed so much while serving our country,” he said.

“We also started working on our story for the next bid by making sure our performance exceeded DHA’s expectations. In addition to competitive pricing and focusing on exceeding our customer’s expectations, our past performance became the basis of our proposal to differentiate us from competitors. Without the hard work of our employees, we wouldn’t have such a good story to tell,” Brugger said.


Ellen Foley honored with ATHENA Award

3/13/2014

Ellen Foley, senior vice president of corporate communications at WPS, was honored Tuesday night with the 2014 ATHENA Award from The Business Forum in Madison.

Foley and nine other nominees were recognized for demonstrating excellence and initiative in their careers, community involvement, and efforts to help women achieve their full potential. The international awards program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.

Mike Hamerlik, president and CEO of the WPS Companies, congratulated Foley for winning the award, which recognizes some of the work she has accomplished since joining WPS in 2013. "Ellen has built a great team here at WPS with the very characteristics the ATHENA Award represents: mentoring and making meaningful connections," he said.

Foley’s accomplishments include being the first female editor of the Wisconsin State Journal when she moved to Madison in 2004. Under her leadership, the newspaper received many awards for online and print projects, including a Pulitzer Prize finalist honor in 2008.

As executive director of communications and community development at Madison Area Technical College, she led the successful effort to win a $134 million referendum in November 2010.

In 1988, Foley founded the Violence Against Women Coalition in Minneapolis-St. Paul after the tragic murder of her sister, Mary. The coalition successfully advocated for legislative change of the penalties for sexual predators.

In addition to leading the communications and marketing efforts for WPS, Foley is a journalist, marketing and communications adviser, community leader, mentor, coach and role model for women leaders, and remains active on numerous boards and organizations in Dane County.


WPS Charitable Foundation issues scholarships for 2014

6/30/2014

10 students to receive $1,250 for higher education

WPS announces the recipients of the WPS Charitable Foundation scholarships for 2014. The following 10 students will receive a one-year Ray Koenig Memorial Scholarship (valued at $1,250 each), which is named in honor of the first president of WPS. The selected applicants are:

  • John Bauer, son of Robert Bauer (Madison-IT Security), graduated from Poynette High School (Poynette, WI) and will be attending the University of Wisc
  • Cori Bergantzel, daughter of Sandy Bergantzel (Omaha-Medicare), graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School (Council Bluffs, IA) and will be attending Iowa Western Community College.
  • Micaela Calabrese, daughter of Rachel Calabrese (Madison-Accounting), graduated in 2013 and is attending the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
  • Ariel Crego, daughter of Dian Blackbourn-Crego (Madison-Medicare), graduated from Belmont High School (Belmont, WI) and will be attending Coe College.
  • Boman Groff, son of Susan Groff (Omaha-Medicare), graduated from Central High School (Omaha, NE) and will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
  • Britany Hale, daughter of Marcy Morefield (Marion-Medicare), graduated from Benton Consolidated High School (Benton, IL) and will be attending Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
  • Hannah Johnson, daughter of Michelle Johnson (Madison-Health Insurance), graduated from East High School (Madison, WI) and will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
  • Courtney Lawlor, daughter of Timothy Lawlor (Madison-IT), graduated in 2013 and is attending the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, MN.
  • Kelsey Runge, daughter of Heather Runge (De Pere-Sales), graduated from Kimberly High School (Kimberly, WI) and will be attending the University of Alabama.
  • Troy Showers, son of Sherri Showers (Madison-Actuarial), graduated in 2013 and is attending the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Sixty children of employees of WPS and its subsidiaries qualified this year. Characteristics of the applicants include:

Gender: 41 females; 19 males

Location:

  • Wisconsin: 37 – Madison; 3 – Green Bay/De Pere; 2 - Wausau
  • Illinois: 4 – Marion
  • Nebraska: 10 – Omaha
  • Florida: 1 – Clearwater

Parent works in: 20 – Medicare; 11– TRICARE; 8 – Health Insurance Operations; 6 – Information Systems; 3 – Sales; 2 – Accounting; 2 – Arise Health Plan; 1 - Actuarial; 1 – Corporate Services; 1 – Medical Affairs; 1 – Provider Relations


WPS Health Insurance teams up with Green Bay Packers for 1K Kids Run

6/4/2014

July 25 event in Green Bay is part of the festivities for 2014 training camp

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance are proud to present the second annual WPS 1K Kids Run on July 25 to help kick off the 2014 football training camp in Green Bay. WPS is a “Proud Partner of the Green Bay Packers,” and one of its subsidiaries, Arise Health Plan, is based in Green Bay.

Children ages 10 and under will run a lap inside historic Lambeau Field and finish on a replica turf in the parking lot. The event starts at 6 p.m. Friday, July 25, with packet pick-up from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the atrium.

The evening concludes with Packers Movie Night inside the stadium at 7 p.m. A family-friendly movie will be shown on the TundraVision screen. Admission is free for the movie.

Staging for the Kids Run will be outside the Oneida Nation gate in the southeast corner of the Lambeau Field parking lot. There will be four waves of runners:

  • 10-year-olds: 6:00 p.m.
  • Ages 8-9: 6:10 p.m.
  • Ages 6-7: 6:20 p.m.
  • Ages 5 and under: 6:30 p.m. (A parent or guardian must accompany children 5 years and under.)

The registration fee of $10 includes a Packers Kids Run T-shirt, logo bag, and participant medal.

Here are the registration options: Online: http://nfl.packers.com/fan_zone/events/5k/register-kids/ (Online registration closes July 22.)

Walk-up: 3 to 5:30 p.m. day of the event in the Lambeau Field Atrium

By mail: Download the registration form at: http://nfl.packers.com/fan_zone/events/5k/kids-run-info/kidsregistration2014.pdf
Send the completed form and a check made payable to:
Green Bay Packers 5K Run/Walk
PO Box 10628
Green Bay, WI 54307-0628

More information is available at: http://nfl.packers.com/fan_zone/events/5k/kids-run-info/


Milwaukee student entrepreneurs win state contest co-sponsored by WPS

4/28/2014

WPS was among the sponsors for the inaugural Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament for University of Wisconsin student entrepreneurs.

A team from UW-Milwaukee placed first among 10 competing April 5 in Madison. The team advances to the 40-team field at the International Business Model Competition in Provo, Utah, May 1-3.

The team is comprised of two Air National Guard members, Tom Burden and Janie Asberry, and Air Force veteran Shawn Petros. They are developing non-corrosive mats on which aerospace mechanics can stand or place tools. Their company, Grypshon, is planning to sell products to the military.

The Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament was organized by the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Besides WPS, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and American Family Insurance helped sponsor the event. A matching grant was provided by the UW System.

“This inaugural program set the framework for growth and expansion of Lean Startup training and idea development for students within the UW System,” said Mark Lange, executive director of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development for UW-Extension.

Grypshon also qualifies for the first round of the Ideadvance seed fund administered by UW-Extension and funded by the UW System and WEDC. Depending on the business milestones attained, the team could earn up to $25,000 to advance its product.

The Wisconsin runner-up was Long-term Health Solutions, comprised of Spencer Beard and Bradley Price of UW-Eau Clare. They are targeting aging populations for specialized home remodeling and installation of health care technology.

Third-place finisher Atlas Investments – comprised of Parker Lenz, Joseph Neff, and Eric Sajdak of UW Oshkosh – pitched innovative investment products for financial brokers.

All three top finishers earned an interview with gener8tor, one of the Midwest ’s leading startup accelerators.

The “People’s Choice Winner” – based on number of Twitter votes – was Billboard Brew founded by Cory DeRuiter of UW-Oshkosh to provide advertising for cup-related businesses.


Brett Davis joins WPS Health Insurance

4/9/2014

Former Medicaid director becomes Vice President of Provider Relations

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer, announces the hiring of Brett Davis as the new Vice President of Provider Relations.

Davis previously was division administrator in charge of Medicaid for the state of Wisconsin, in the Department of Health Services. He oversaw a budget of $8 billion serving 1.1 million Wisconsin residents, and managed hundreds of employees.

“I am looking forward to leveraging Brett’s deep relationships and experience with providers around the state, and for innovative ways to structure and negotiate arrangements with our partners that will improve health care value and enhance insurance coverage in Wisconsin,” said Scott Kowalski, Executive Vice President of WPS Health Insurance.

“Brett has a high degree of comfort with the corporate budgeting process, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and navigating through government regulations,” Kowalski said.

Davis was a member of the state Assembly from 2005 to 2011. He worked as a tax and revenue policy analyst for Gov. Tommy G. Thompson before becoming special assistant to the Secretary under Secretary Thompson at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Davis also served as chief of staff to state Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, prior to serving in the state Legislature.

He has a degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.


WPS chosen as one of World’s Most Ethical Companies

3/20/2014

It’s the fifth consecutive year that WPS has received this distinction

WPS Health Insurance, Wisconsin's leading not-for-profit health insurer and a large government contractor for the federal Medicare and TRICARE programs, announced today that it has once again been recognized by the Ethisphere® Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for 2014.

This is the fifth time that WPS has been honored with this award, which recognizes organizations that continue to raise the bar on ethical leadership and corporate behavior.

A total of 143 companies made the list this year, and WPS is the only health insurance company in the world to receive this recognition five times.

“WPS prides itself on always having high ethical standards,” said WPS Vice President of Internal Audit, Compliance and Risk Jane Keller-Allen. “We believe our employees, customers, government officials, partners, and our communities respect and trust us to always do the right thing. I am proud that we have received this award for five years in a row,” she said.

“WPS joins an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at WPS for this extraordinary achievement,” said Ethisphere Chief Executive Officer Timothy Erblich.

The World's Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient™ framework, which assesses performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way. The collected information provides a comprehensive sampling of criteria of core competencies.

Scores are generated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program (25%); reputation, leadership and innovation (20%); governance (10%); corporate citizenship and responsibility (25%); and culture of ethics (20%).

The full list of the 2014 World's Most Ethical Companies can be found at http://ethisphere.com/worlds-most-ethical/wme-honorees/.


Retiring Middleton police chief to join WPS

3/6/2014

Brad Keil will become manager of corporate facilities security

Middleton Police Chief Brad Keil has been appointed manager of corporate facilities security at WPS, effective March 31.

On March 28, he will retire from the Middleton Police Department, where he has been chief since 2004. Before that, he was chief of police in Monona from 1999 to 2004.

“I’m very much looking forward to bringing Chief Brad Keil on board to support and enhance our ongoing security initiative,” said Mark Jensen, vice president, Business Services. “As former chief of police for the city of Monona, his familiarity with the community and the local Business Watch program will be a tremendous asset.”

Keil also has worked for the West Bend Police Department and Northrop Corporation, and he was a military police officer with the U.S. Army.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice/social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s in public administration from UW-Oshkosh. Keil is a graduate of an executive development course at the FBI National Academy.

As chief of police, he guided two municipal police departments through the development and implementation of strategic plans. He also took on the role of project manager for the new Middleton police and court facility, which included a state-of-the-art access control and video surveillance system.


WPS selects Keith Williams to lead Human Resources

1/14/2014

Executive has broad experience in financial services and software industries

Keith Williams has been named senior vice president of human resources at WPS, effective February 3. The announcement was made today by Chief Administrative and Risk Officer Craig Campbell.

“We are excited to have Keith join WPS,” Campbell said. “As a true HR professional, Keith brings positive change through best-in-class practices. Those practices are needed to remain competitive in the ‘speed-of-light’ changing health care financing environment in which we live.”

Williams currently is director of human resources for the Stevens Point Area Public School District in central Wisconsin. He joined the school district following a broad HR career within the financial services and software industries.

He previously was senior vice president of human resources for Wausau Financial Systems, an electronic payment processing company. He held the same position for the CUNA Mutual Insurance Society, a financial services company serving credit unions, headquartered in Madison. He previously worked as vice president of reengineering at CUNA Mutual.

Earlier in his career, Williams was vice president of human resources for Century Companies of America, a financial company providing life, disability, and asset accumulation products, headquartered in Waverly, Iowa.

He has an MBA from the University of Northern Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in management and psychology from Luther College.

He is a frequent adjunct instructor for Cardinal Stritch University and Concordia University Wisconsin. He holds the SPHR and FLMI designations.


Eric Eberle saluted Sunday for Operation Fan Mail

1/6/2014

Recognition program honors active-duty military personnel

The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to U.S. Navy Deep Sea Master Diver Eric Eberle, of Racine, Wis., during Sunday’s Packers-49ers playoff game for Operation Fan Mail.

Eberle recently completed his second eight-month deployment to Africa and Europe. His team is responsible for several missions, including the recovery efforts of a Missing in Action service member from World War II in the Mediterranean Sea, the salvage and recovery of two F-16 Fighting Falcons in the North Adriatic Sea, and the recovery of the Civil War Ironclad CSS Georgia in Savannah, Ga.

After 16 years of service, he was selected as one of only 90 active-duty Master Divers in the Navy.

Eberle graduated from Case High School, in Racine, Wis., and received a swimming scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, which he attended for two years. After UW-Green Bay, he joined the Navy, and was hand-selected to attend the Navy’s premier dive program, which he successfully graduated from in 1999. Since then, he has been stationed in Connecticut, Italy, Florida and, most recently, Virginia.

He attended the game with his wife, Heather, father, Phil, and daughter, Zoe.

Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 65 families have been recognized with through the program.

To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at http://nfl.packers.com/gameday/gameday_promotions/operation_fan_mail/.

Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.

In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.