Bragdon out as HealthTrust leader

MILFORD – Former state Senate President Peter Bragdon has been let go as the head of New Hampshire HealthTrust and will be paid his sal­ary until his contract ex­pires next June.

Bragdon was hired two years ago by what was then called the Local Gov­ernment Center to lead the troubled public risk pool out of its legal bat­tles with state regulators. The longtime Republican legislator from Milford gave up his Senate presi­dency in response to com­plaints about conflicts of interest.

HealthTrust is the state’s chief manager of medical insurance for town and city employees. It had hired Bragdon to help resolve its conflicts with state regulators over its business practices.

Bragdon said the de­cision by HealthTrust’s board of directors didn’t come as a surprise.

"I was hired to get things stabilized," he said, "and now things are stabilized and the over­all business operation is much improved, and it was coming time for them to renew my contract."

Bragdon said when he was hired, the Local Gov­ernment Center was criti­cized for hiring someone without medical insur­ance expertise, which he did not have.

Since he was leaving without cause, he said, the company must honor the financial side of the contract. He was hired at an annual salary of $185,000.

Bragdon said the terms of the contract were fair because "I was giving up something I enjoyed very much," meaning the Sen­ate presidency.

A year after he resigned his Senate presidency, he resigned from the Senate, saying he wanted to de­vote his full efforts to the LGC.

In a press release af­ter he was hired, Health­Trust had said Bragdon would help the agency respond to changes in health care that affect lo­cal government, such as the Affordable Care Act, and other issues affecting HealthTrust’s pooled risk management program.

HealthTrust cited Brag­don’s "knowledge of the needs of our cities, towns, school districts and coun­ties, his understanding of the workings of a pooled risk management pro­gram, and his extensive business background make him the right fit to lead HealthTrust into the future,"

In 2013, Bragdon initial­ly said he wouldn’t step down from his Senate role and would handle potential conflicts by re­cusing himself from bills addressing the regulation of public risk pools. Vet­eran political observers, however, insisted that there were still inherent conflicts.

Bragdon’s resignation from the Senate ended a 14-year stint in New Hampshire politics as a Republican that started when he won a seat in the House of Represen­tatives. In 2004, he was elected to the state Sen­ate. After he retired from the District 11 Senate seat – which includes the towns of Milford, Merri­mack, Amherst and Wil­ton – Gary Daniels was elected to the position.

Bragdon also served on the Milford School Board for nearly two decades, becoming the longest-serving school board member and school board chairman in Mil­ford history. This year, he declined to run for anoth­er term on the board.

Now, Bragdon said, he will take some time off and "see what opportuni­ties present themselves."

HealthTrust’s board chairman, Peter Curro, couldn’t be reached. He told New Hampshire Pub­lic Radio that the board is searching for a director with more risk pool expe­rience and that general counsel David Frydman is serving as interim ex­ecutive director.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.