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Leadership

Steve Province is President and CEO of Buckeye Health Plan where he leads the development and execution of Buckeye’s strategic plan and ensures operational performance exceeds the expectations of Buckeye’s providers, members, community and regulators.  He is a mission-focused leader dedicated to delivering on Buckeye’s vision to “Transform the health of the community, one person at a time.”  Buckeye is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation and is currently Ohio’s second largest and fastest growing government sponsored managed care plan.  Buckeye connects more than 445,000 statewide members with the medical, vision, dental, behavioral health and community services they need to live a healthier life.  Buckeye’s managed care products include Medicaid, Marketplace, Medicare and combined Medicaid-Medicare (MyCare Ohio).

Prior to joining Buckeye, Steve served as the President and CEO for AMITA Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale where he was responsible for all local strategic and operational functions for the hospital. He had operational oversight of a 261 bed acute care (trauma level II ED and a level III NICU) hospital along with an ambulatory comprehensive cancer center, ambulatory surgical center, home hospice program, and multiple outpatient imaging centers.  Steve’s focus on building a quality, patient-centric culture helped the hospital achieve a CMS 5 star designation and a state of Illinois top 15-hospital rating.

Earlier in his career, Steve served as the Chief Operations Officer and Interim President for Providence Healthcare Network.  In this role, Steve oversaw all operational functions for the network, which included a 237-bed acute care hospital, a 48-bed mental health hospital and a 326-bed long-term care facility.

Steve began his healthcare career at Kaiser Permanente where he served as director of Performance Improvement, director of Supply Chain and Hospital Administrator of Support Service.  This was his first civilian leadership role after serving nine years in the U.S. Navy as an Aviator and Supply Officer. In the Navy, Steve served in seven duty stations and supported forward deployed logistics in two wars. 

Steve is a hands-on leader with a passion to engage with associates, align culture, build teams and inspire action. He believes that success comes to those who work hard, are flexible to change and committed to “Leading with Heart”.  He has earned a reputation for being a collaborative leader who builds strong teams focused on transforming the care provided in a way that improves quality, service and affordability within the system.

Steve earned an MBA from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and an American Society for Quality (ASQ) certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  Throughout his healthcare career, Steve has proudly served on many community based boards and foundations.

Erik Helms serves Buckeye Health Plan as the Chief Performance Officer. Helms is responsible for quality improvement, pharmacy, health economics and data analytics, strengthening Buckeye’s ability to be more impactful in quality and health delivery results.

Helms is an accomplished and versatile healthcare executive with more than 20 years of leadership at a number of successful health plans. Before joining Buckeye, Helms served as Vice President of Provider Network and Medical Economics at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

Helms holds a bachelor’s degree in public and international policy and a master’s degree in epidemiology from Michigan State University.

Dr. Brad Lucas is Chief Medical Officer at Buckeye Health Plan.  Formerly, he ran a large OB/GYN practice in Cleveland until 2007 when he joined the company full-time. He continues to focus his clinical work in specialty areas of practice including preterm birth, low birth rate, and infant mortality.

For Buckeye, Dr. Lucas manages a team of physicians responsible for reviewing claims and authorizing treatment; and developing programs and relationships with providers to effectively improve health outcomes for our members.

He has helped to build and guide award-winning programs such as Start Smart for Your Baby®, New Leaf, an addiction in pregnancy program, and other preterm birth prevention programs. His expertise is critical to the development and implementation of programs that improve clinical outcomes and ensure high-quality care across all medical conditions for Buckeye members.

Dr. Lucas remains active in community outreach that impacts mothers and families in Ohio. He recently finished serving on the Executive Committee Member of the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality (OCPIM). He is active in helping Ohio leverage evidence-based models of community coordination such as Pathways Community Hubs. He is a National Advisory Council Member of the Pathways Community Hub Institute. Dr. Lucas is also a member of the Coding and Reimbursement Committee for the Society of Fetal Medicine.

Completing his OB/GYN residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Lucas is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. As a board-certified physician, he continues his clinical care at Rapid Medical Research in Cleveland.

Dr. Lucas lives in Chagrin Falls with his wife and four children (one is attending The Ohio State University).

Christian Miller serves Buckeye as the Chief Financial Officer. Miller previously worked for Centene Corporation, where he acted as Vice President of strategic planning and forecasting for specialized markets.

He is a proven strategic leader who is strong on developing people and systems. Christian has more than 20 years of financial and operational leadership experience with a leading health insurance company in New York, and a physician network development company in Florida and New York. 

Christian received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mathematics from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam, and is a PhD candidate in Mathematics and MA candidate in Economics at SUNY at Buffalo. He graduated from Harvard Business School’s executive education program in organizational change.
 

Natalie Lukaszewicz serves Buckeye Health Plan as the Vice President of Network Development and Contracting. Natalie has more than thirty years of network management experience in both the health plan and health system arena. She is a key leader in developing and executing network growth and financial strategy. Natalie is an accomplished network executive with more than 15 years of leadership at several successful health plans.

Before joining Buckeye she was the Vice President, Network Performance at Priority Health Plan in Michigan.

Natalie attended University of Central Florida in the study of Health Services Management and Case Western Reserve University for Executive Management and Leadership.

Lori Mulichak, RN, MHA, FACHE serves Buckeye Health Plan as the Vice President of Medical Management. Mulichak is responsible for clinical operations including case management, utilization management and prior authorization for the following programs: Covered Families and Children (CFC), Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD), Children with Special Health Care Needs, Medicaid Expansion, MyCare Ohio, Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan, and Marketplace.

Mulichak has had diverse senior level executive responsibility for healthcare operations. Before joining Buckeye, she was Vice President of Clinical Operations for Care Support of America in Albany, New York. Mulichak also held leadership positions at American Health Holding, Inc., Fresenius Medical Care and OhioHealth.

Mulichak earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and nursing from Youngstown State University, and a Master of Health Administration from The Ohio State University. Mulichak’s professional certifications include the following designations: Fellow in American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), Certified SPIN Instructor (STAR 3), and Certified Reaction Cycling Instructor.

Eric Poklar serves as the key liaison with state legislators and policy makers for Buckeye Health Plan. In addition, he is responsible for leading the company’s marketing strategy to enhance communication with plan members and internal and external stakeholders.

Prior to joining Buckeye Health Plan, Poklar served as director of legislative affairs for Governor John R. Kasich and as the director of legislative affairs and communications for Governor Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation.

His extensive background in government affairs includes posts as the director of legislative affairs for Governor Bob Taft and as the director of legislative affairs for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Ohio Department of Public Safety. In addition, Poklar has operated his own government affairs, marketing and communications firm. He began his career as an aide to state Sen. Dick Schafrath.

Poklar graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism.

Andrew Reitz joined Buckeye Health Plan as the Vice President of Compliance. As the Senior Executive for Compliance, Andy is a key leader responsible for advising the Senior Executive Leadership Team on regulatory, compliance, and legal matters. 

Before joining Buckeye, he served as an Associate General Counsel for the CareSource Management Group in Dayton, Ohio. His extensive legal background also includes previous positions as an attorney for Faruki Ireland & Cox P.L.L and as a contract lawyer for Seisint, a LexisNexis Company.

Andy holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College and received his Law degree from Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington.

Hagy Wegener joined Buckeye Health Plan as the Vice President of Quality Improvement. Hagy has more than ten years of quality improvement experience in the healthcare sector. She is a key leader in improving Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) scores as well as Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS). Wegener brings leadership skills and experience to support that continue to enhance Buckeye’s quality initiatives.

Before joining Buckeye she was responsible for Quality Improvement at Molina Health Plan in Michigan and Ohio.

Wegener earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ursuline College, and a master’s degree in community services and human services from John Carroll University.

Jay Scherler serves Buckeye Health Plan as the Senior Vice President of Operations. Jay brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in hospital administration and operations. He joins us from Providence Healthcare Network/Ascension Technologies, Waco, Texas, where he served as Vice President, Finance and Chief Information Officer. His responsibilities included managing the Health Ministry’s technology vision including operations, finance, and technology procurement and implementation, while serving as the Health Ministry’s service and delivery escalation point.

Jay also served as the Vice President of Finance at Providence with responsibility for Business Services, Patient Access, Health Information Management, Communications, Facilities, Plant Maintenance, Bio-Med, Security, Receiving, Laundry and Central Supply. He was also the safety officer and chair of Environment of Care, and Supply Chain.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Baylor University and a bachelor’s of science degree from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. In service to his local community, Jay was a member of the Cameron Park Zoo Board, Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo Board, and St. Alban’s School Board.

Jay and his wife, Krista, have a son and seven rescue dogs. He enjoys time with family, travel, yardwork and managing rental properties. A native of Oklahoma, Jay operated a cattle ranch and farm in Texas earlier in life.

Mario Barge is the Regional HR leader for Buckeye Health Plan and Managed Health Services in Indiana.  Mario joined Centene in September 2018, with 20 years of human resources experience in the healthcare and P & C insurance industries. He is chiefly responsible for Buckeye’s people strategy, including working closely with the plan’s senior leadership on workforce planning, employee engagement, talent development and culture. 

Mario is action-oriented with strong communication and influencing skills. He brings an extensive background in partnering with leaders and staff of all levels to achieve strong business results. 

Before joining Buckeye, Mario was a human resources leader at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company in Columbus, Ohio, where he spent most of his career.  Mario earned a Bachelor’s in History from Dartmouth College, a Juris Doctorate from Lewis and Clark Law School, is certified in alternative dispute resolution, Prosci certified for Change Management and holds an Ohio law license.

Mario loves spending time with his family and friends, being active, experiencing the arts, and attending sports and music events.