David Henley Is Fulfilling the Passport Promise

David Henley helps Passport Health Plan successfully navigate ongoing changes to Medicare and Medicaid compliance

As chief compliance officer, risk management leader, and culture leader for Passport Health Plan, David Henley focuses his work using a simple philosophy: put people first, be purpose-driven, and act with passion. These three things guide Henley as he collaborates with internal audit, IT security, and other departments to help the organization achieve its business goals. To do that requires Henley to navigate multiple responsibilities and areas of expertise.

First, there is the responsibility of handling three different interconnected areas, each of which is critical to the organization’s success. He must also adapt to the constantly evolving healthcare environment in which Medicare and Medicaid—the company’s exclusive markets—have experienced exponential change.

To steer through these changes, he has learned to focus on rules and regulations to help provide stability. “When so many things are shifting, maintaining compliance, attending to the needs of our members, and sustaining a culture that supports those efforts is what guides us,” he says.

David Henley Passport Health Plan
David Henley, Passport Health Plan

Changes were in play from the beginning of Henley’s role at Passport. The organization is a local nonprofit community-based health plan administering Kentucky Medicaid benefits and is contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide Medicare Advantage benefits in four counties throughout Kentucky. Passport’s value proposition is to work closely with local providers and community advocates to fulfill its mission, which is to improve the health and quality of life of its members, Henley says. Passport accomplishes that, in part, through its Partnership Council and through its community engagement team.

The Partnership Council includes local providers and allows participants to provide feedback that is coordinated with the company’s various specialty committees, such as pharmacy and behavioral health, to directly address specific needs and issues.

“We emphasize community relationships through regular communication and processes and structures, such as the Partnership Council and value-based contracts with our providers,” Henley says. “It’s vital that we work together as partners to reach our shared objectives.”

Those partnerships are especially important because healthcare is an industry that is subject to a number of outside factors, including legislators, regulators, insurance companies, and more, which means its constantly evolving, Henley says. He also helped develop a partnership with Evolent Health LLC to take advantage of its mature technology capabilities.

The goal of this initiative was to maximize Passport’s clinical and financial performance and mitigate financial risk while enabling provider organizations to control their own destiny, Henley says. Ultimately, he says the will help lower the cost of care and deliver better health outcomes for patients. Henley wants initiatives such as the partnership with Evolent to begin to change the perception of compliance at Passport.

“Compliance is typically viewed as Big Brother looking over everyone’s shoulders,” he says. “We’ve let everyone know that we’re actually here to help.”

To further this effort, Henley has spearheaded the creation of events such as Compliance Talk with Your Chief Compliance Officer, written informational articles surrounding compliance’s role in the company, and completed compliance tips presentations. As a result of these events, engagement is up and employees seem to understand what steps should be taken to reduce the likelihood of an adverse regulatory action or inappropriate HIPAA disclosure, Henley says. A strong culture of compliance goes hand in hand with a successful business, he says.

“Without strong support for and from our culture, we won’t meet our goals and objectives,” Henley points out. “Acting accountably, staying engaged, and being aware of how our moods and actions impact others all become tools that fuel our success.”

Externally, Passport emphasizes a community focus and efforts to understand the social determinants of healthcare issues. Many of its members are of lower socioeconomic status and experience medical conditions that contribute disproportionately to healthcare costs. A majority also face inadequate access to pharmacies and medical care, as well as grocery stores that provide options for healthy diets.

Despite Henley’s large scope of responsibilities, it all stays in focus for him because of the organization’s central mission.

“So much change can be overwhelming,” Henley says. “To stay focused, the best approach is to remember the Passport Promise—to always put our members first—and to do everything we can to help Kentuckians live healthier lives.”


Senn Delaney congratulates David Henley for his strong leadership and forward thinking in shaping Passport’s culture into an asset prepared to face challenges in an uncertain healthcare industry.

Senn Delaney has helped hundreds of companies like Passport prepare for change, uncertainty and disruption by actively shaping their cultures to improve business performance. Visit Senn Delaney.com to learn how we can help you shape your culture into an asset in uncertain times.