It’s hard to find anything in the health plan space that Lori Benso can’t do. Her 24-year career has spanned the legal department, senior management and government. Lori has walked miles in her clients’ shoes, managing large teams and holding positions of substantial responsibility. She offers a wealth of experience and perspective with regard to regulatory compliance, government relations, lobbying, licensing, contract negotiations, data privacy and security, and strategic planning.
Business leader, team player
As Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Health Alliance Medical Plans for 15 years, Lori was responsible for legal matters, government programs, board planning and employee benefits for a $1 billion dollar and 250,000-member health plan.
Lori understands how health plans function and looks at legal counsel through a business lens. Communicating easily across departments and roles, she can drop in to supplement in-house legal and compliance teams and hit the ground running. No project is too big or too complex. She tackles issues head on, always steady under pressure.
The government POV
Lori’s facility with government comes as a result of 10 years working for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services where she oversaw 140 employees and a $2 billion-dollar budget. As Deputy Benefits Manager, she was responsible for four separate health plans covering 420,000 employees, retirees and dependents. She met regularly with the Governor’s office, the Budget Director, and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
At Health Alliance, Lori was responsible for government relations including coordinating of legislative, lobbying, and political activities and maintaining relationships with state and federal officials. She was also charged with responding to agency requests and regulatory requirements and, when necessary, confronting the government through litigation. She understands how to develop and finesse positive relationships with government representatives, and how and when to push back to protect her organization’s position.
Maximizing savings and implementing growth
Whether in government or in the private sector, Lori has been instrumental in critical business decisions and growth strategies. While working for the State of Illinois, Lori negotiated union contracts and devised creative cost containment approaches, saving the state hundreds of million dollars. At Health Alliance, she led a multistate expansion, forming multiple for-profit and not-for-profit health plans and achieving successful state certification in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska and Washington.
Lori comes to Strategic Health Law from Health Alliance Medical Plans where she was Senior Vice President, Legal Services and General Counsel for 15 years. Prior to that, she spent nine years with the State of Illinois, ultimately as the Benefits Deputy Director, Department of Central Management Services.
Lori is currently PTA President and Troop Leader for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, and she serves on the CMI Airport Advisory Board.
Lori earned her J.D. from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. While in law school she participated in the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri Legal Clinic. She earned her B.A. in Political Science with minors in Business and History from Eastern Illinois University, where she graduated summa cum laude.
Lori is licensed to practice in Illinois and admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois.
Lori is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association and participates in both the In-House Counsel Practice Group and the Payers Plans and Managed Care Practice Group. She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, where she has chaired the Employee Benefits Section Council. She has been a member of America’s Health Insurance Plans and was previously on the board of the Illinois HMO Guaranty Association.
Healing at Home in Illinois
American Healthcare Leader