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November 11, 2019

Kaiser chair and CEO Bernard Tyson dies unexpectedly at 60

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    Bernard Tyson, chair and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, died unexpectedly at age 60 early Sunday morning, Kaiser announced. No cause of death has been shared.

    Tyson dies at 60

    Tyson had served as Kaiser's CEO since 2013 and chair since 2014 after spending more than 30 years with the organization. He was Kaiser's first African-American CEO, and was named as one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People" in 2017 and one of its 50 top leaders in health care in 2018.

    Tyson was known throughout the industry as a champion for accessible health care and workplace diversity. On Saturday, the day before his passing, Tyson spoke at the AfroTech gathering in Oakland on equity in health care and technology. Earlier in the week, Tyson sat on a panel at the AT&T Business Summit to discuss workplace diversity.

    During Tyson's tenure at Kaiser, the nonprofit grew from nine million members to more than 12 million and increased its workforce from 174,000 employees to 218,000.

    In addition to his roles with Kaiser, Tyson served on the board of directors for the American Heart Association and Salesforce, and was a member of the Business Council, a group of 200 leading CEOs in the United States.

    Tyson is survived by his wife and three sons. Kaiser announced that EVP and group president Gregory Adams will be named as interim chair and CEO.

    Health care industry reacts

    In its statement, Kaiser said Tyson was "[a]n outstanding leader, visionary, and champion for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

    Edward Pei, chair of Kaiser's executive committee and the governance accountability and nominating committee, said Tyson "was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him."

    Leaders throughout the health care industry reacted to Tyson's passing, remembering him fondly.

    Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Health, said, "Bernie was a good friend and trusted peer, and I am so saddened by his passing. I'll miss Bernie's keen mind and good nature, as well as his unique ability to rally people from all walks of life around a singular goal of making health care better for all Americans."

    Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, said, "Bernard was a visionary leader with a passion for health equity, quality care and serving those in need. His loss is a loss for all who strive to improve the quality of care and coverage in the American health care system."

    Health care leaders and lawmakers sent condolences on Tyson's passing on Twitter as well.

    (Kaiser Permanente release, 11/10; Duffy, CNN, 11/11; Coombs, CNBC, 11/10; Evans, Wall Street Journal, 11/10; Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 11/10; AP/New York Times, 11/10).

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