Anthony L. Watson, the longtime leader of the Health Insurance Plan of greater New York (HIP) and the first CEO of EmblemHealth, passed away on March 9, 2021. Known for his dedication to working families, his charismatic leadership, and his commitment to bringing high quality health care to New York’s underserved neighborhoods, Mr. Watson led HIP for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in bringing together HIP and GHI to form EmblemHealth, creating one of the largest not for profit companies in the country.
Mr. Watson lived a full life as a leader, family man, former Olympian, and visionary. He made history as one of the first African American leaders of a major health care organization and played an important national leadership role in health care and beyond.
Mr. Watson ─ ever the crusader for social justice and equity ─ was a founder of state and national efforts to initiate health planning and protect consumers by distributing resources efficiently and effectively. He was a member of President Clinton‘s Bipartisan Medicare Reform Commission and was instrumental in the formation of America‘s Health Insurance Plans’ national association, where he played a leadership role on its Board of Directors.
Mr. Watson also played an important role in revitalizing lower Manhattan by leading the Battery Park restoration efforts, as well as by working with the mayor and governor of New York to be among the first companies to move headquarters to lower Manhattan following the tragic event of 9/11 – a testament to his love of New York and belief in its future.
Mr. Watson was raised in Oklahoma and moved to New York in 1965 after earning a degree in political science. Unique in his background, Mr. Watson had the distinction of competing in the broad jump event in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He also served on the boards of a variety of corporate and community-based organizations where he left a legacy of service and accomplishment.
He is survived by his wife Desiree, son Anthony Watson Junior, and daughters Alayjah and Sheridan.