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Carolyn Pare, the longtime president and CEO of the Minnesota Health Action Group, will retire from the not-for-profit health care improvement organization next month after 20 years in the top role.

An announcement Tuesday from the Bloomington-based group said it has been conducting “strategic planning activities” in preparation for Pare’s retirement since January. Pare, 62, will retire at the end of September.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time on adventure travel, community building and environmental advocacy, for starters,” Pare said in an e-mail via a spokesperson. “I would also love to advise on health policy matters, specifically those that are focused on consumer protections.”

The Minnesota Health Action Group, formed in 1988 as the Buyers Health Care Action Group, exists to influence health care providers and other stakeholders to provide better quality care and lower costs. The group’s members include large employers like the University of Minnesota, the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Best Buy, 3M and Wells Fargo, and private insurers like UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

During Pare’s tenure the group witnessed the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, launching value-based health care and care coordination initiatives on a national level. The group now searches for a leader during another time of potential upheaval, as Democratic presidential candidates embrace national single-payer health plans while reform opponents hope the Supreme Court will strike down the ACA next year.

The announcement of Pare’s retirement credited her with developing key initiatives that established Minnesota as a “leading force” for programs in line with the law’s goals of financial reform, performance measurement and cost and quality transparency.

Those included the co-creation of the Bridges to Excellence program, billed as the first “pay for performance” program that brought together Medicaid and commercial insurers to financially reward providers for care delivery and optimal outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. It also created the National Data Cooperative program used by employers to analyze health care data to reduce waste and improve value, and it co-created the Smart Buy Alliance to implement and publicly report on common standards for health care purchasing.

“Carolyn has never shied away from the tough issues or conversations, and has a keen eye for collaboration that truly matters,” Ken Horstman, chairman of the board at the Action Group, said in Pare’s retirement announcement.

Joe Carlson • 612-673-4779