EAM Receives Award

Michigan Association of Health Plans Recognizes Health Care Leaders at Annual Conference

Bret Jackson, EAM President, accepts the 2021 MAHP Presidential Merit Award on behalf of EAM members.

June 29, 2021, TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The Economic Alliance for Michigan, former Priority Health CEO Joan Budden, former Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Teri Morante and Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Township), were recognized today for their contributions to addressing state health care issues at the Michigan Association of Health Plans’ annual summer conference at Grand Traverse Resort today.

Sen. Lauwers received the 2021 Legislator of the Year award. This award recognizes lawmakers who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in support of issues that advocate for high quality, affordable and accessible health care for Michigan citizens.

Sen. Lauwers has supported improved access to care for Michigan residents, particularly working on issues that have helped Michigan’s small businesses provide insurance coverage to employees. He has addressed critical issues such as ending surprise billing, and his work on MAHP’s Health Insurance Data Availability and Transparency Act (HIDATA) legislation, which he has introduced twice now, is a testament to his comprehensive vision for better health for Michigan citizens.

“We appreciate that Sen. Lauwers continues to challenge MAHP members to provide cost-effective health care to Michigan citizens,” said MAHP Executive Director Dominick Pallone. “He has the qualities of a true leader reflected by his efforts in addressing important health care issues.”

The Economic Alliance for Michigan, a long-time partner of MAHP, received the 2021 MAHP Presidential Merit Award for its outstanding commitment to the MAHP’s mission to the advancement and improvement of high quality, affordable, accessible health care for the citizens of Michigan. The Economic Alliance has worked on promoting a legislative and regulatory environment that will provide for fair competition and lower premiums within the health care industry.

“The Economic Alliance for Michigan has been a strong partner in defending against legislative issues that would increase health care costs to employers,” said Pallone. “The Economic Alliance has always been willing to help educate policy makers on the often unintended cost increases that would result from proposed policy changes.”

MAHP awarded former Chief Deputy Director of DIFS Teri Morante the Eugene Farnum Award. This award honors individuals whose lifetime work reflects the values that former MAHP Executive Director Eugene Farnum fostered — collaboration, compromise, fairness and integrity — and who share his vision of access to quality, affordable health care for Michigan citizens.

For the past 30 years, Morante’s unwavering efforts have advanced our state’s insurance industry as well as MAHP’s mission. Her depth of knowledge and leadership skills in the industry, as well as her commitment to improving the quality of life for all Michigan residents assures that the public’s interest is always served and that Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens are protected.

“She exemplifies the spirit of collaboration that was Gene’s operating principle throughout his professional career,” said Pallone. “And this award conveys our deep appreciation and long-deserved recognition for her service not just to MAHP, but to Michigan citizens who benefited from her work.”

MAHP’s most prestigious award, the Ellis J. Bonner Outstanding Achievement Award, was given to Joan Budden, former CEO and president of Priority Health. Her leadership led the growth of Priority Health, which todays is the second largest and fastest growing health plan in Michigan with more than one million members.

“Joan Budden unmistakably meets the criteria of this prestigious award. She has shown leadership throughout her career in the development of many partnerships with local agencies and community organizations that align with the mission of the MAHP,” Pallone said. “Throughout her career, she has been laser focused on improving consumer choice of health insurance providers, and is an excellent advocate for the betterment of our industry.”

The Bonner award recognizes a MAHP member who has been nominated by colleagues based upon exemplary service, leadership and contributions to the managed care industry and community. The late Ellis Bonner helped launch the health maintenance organization movement in Michigan, and was a mentor to many and a tireless promoter of accessible health care system for Michigan citizens.


The Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP) is an industry voice for 10 health care plans, covering more than 3.1 million Michigan residents, and 50 businesses affiliated with the health care industry. MAHP facilitates communication among members, government, and the industry regarding health care issues of common concern. The mission of the Michigan Association of Health Plans is to provide leadership for the promotion and advocacy of high quality, affordable, accessible health care for the citizens of Michigan.

Press release reprinted with permission.

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