Nashco Founders


The idea for National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO) was spawned in 2011 as a way to facilitate the development of Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs) under the Affordable Care Act.  It was the brainchild of Richard Miltenberger and Jim Edwards, who generously financed the early efforts of the group, and John Morrison. They assembled the first Board of Directors with Morrison serving as President.  The Board also included HMO pioneer Charles ‘Chuck” Butler, and Dr. Jan VanRiper, who organized NASHCO’s first national conference and later became NASHCO’s first Executive Director and CEO.  Allen Feezor and Terry Gardiner, members of the Advisory Committee that helped shape the federal rules governing CO-OPs, joined the founding Board in 2012 after completion of their official Committee duties.  As a volunteer organization initially, NASHCO provided a vital platform for nascent CO-OPs to communicate with each other and with policymakers throughout the rule-making process, application phase, and in preparation for the October 1, 2013 opening of the new marketplaces. NASHCO is the sole trade organization representing CO-OPs, and all 23 CO-OPs are members of NASHCO.

Founding President

John Morrison


John Morrison is the founding President of NASHCO. He served as State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner of Montana 2001-2008 and chaired the Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

John is the author of Insure Montana, which was a model for the Affordable Care Act, and Healthy Montana Kids.  The two initiatives provided health coverage to tens of thousands of Montanans.  John also led the national ban of ERISA discretionary clauses and the crackdown on fake health insurance.

Appointed to replace former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, John is Immediate Past Chairman of the Senior Health Care Oversight Trust and the Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania, a $3 billion long term care insurer. He serves as Secretary of the Board of the Center for Health Policy Development, parent of the National Academy of State Health Policy, and as an ERISA consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor.  He is also co-founder and Board Vice-Chair of the Montana Health CO-OP.

John is the senior partner of his law firm, Morrison Sherwood Wilson Deola PLLP. He is the author of numerous articles and one book.  He has spoken about health policy to both houses of Congress, at Harvard, Stanford, Beijing University and many other schools and national conferences, and his work has been covered widely by national media.  John holds a BA in Philosophy from Whitman College and a JD from the University of Denver.


Richard Miltenberger, Co-Owner of Leavitt Great West Insurance Services

Richard Miltenberger hasrichard miltenberger state fund had a successful career in health insurance, going to work after college for a large TPA in the southeast, Gilsbar, Inc. While there, he helped develop innovative plan designs for self-fundedbenefit plans. In 1989, Miltenberger went to work as a founding manager in the newly developed Seabury & Smith division of the Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Later, while still living in Chicago, he joined Montgomery Ward and Co., developing new benefits. Miltenberger accepted a position with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana as Vice President of Marketing, and later managed the Underwriting and Product Development area. He joined Mountain West Benefits (MWB), an employee benefit consulting firm, as partner in fall 2006.

In 2010, Miltenberger and his MWB partner, Jim Edwards, founded the Montana Health Cooperative with Dr. Tom Roberts and John Morrison, former insurance commissioner; Morrison, Miltenberger and Edwards co-founded the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO) in 2011. In 2014, MWB merged with two other agencies in Montana to become Leavitt Great West Insurance Services, an affiliate of Leavitt Group which is one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerages in the nation.

Jim Edwards, Co-Owner of Leavitt Great West Insurance Services

Jim E NASHCOJim Edwards has been in the employee benefit and consulting business, primarily large group medical since 1989 when he started with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana as a District Manager in Miles City, MT. A short time later, Edwards was charged with managing the companies’ large groups and association trusts from the BCBSMT headquarters in Helena, MT. In 1996, Edwards began working with as an independent insurance agent and consultant working with large employers and associations, advising them on the design, financing and administration of their medical and affiliated benefit plans.

In 2003, Edwards started his own firm, Mountain West Benefits. Mountain West Benefits specialized in advising large, self-funded employer as well as association sponsored multi-employer health insurance plans. In 2006, Edwards partnered with Richard Miltenberger and together in 2010, with John Morrison and Dr. Tom Roberts, they founded the Montana Health Cooperative. Shortly thereafter, in 2011, Morrison, Miltenberger and Edwards co-founded the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO). In 2014, Mountain West Benefits merged with two other agencies in Montana to become Leavitt Great West Insurance Services, an affiliate of Leavitt Group—one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerages in the nation.

Founding Board Members

Dr. Jan VanRiper, NASHCO Executive Director

IMG_7346Dr. Jan VanRiper serves as NASHCO’s executive director and CEO.  Previously, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies at East Carolina University, where she maintains affiliate faculty status.  She is also adjunct faculty at the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University.

Dr. VanRiper has served as the Director for the Montana State Workers’ Compensation Fund, general counsel and vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, and Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner in Montana.  She has private practice experience in workers’ compensation and employment law.  She holds a J.D. from the University of Montana and doctorate in Philosophy with an emphasis on applied ethics from the University of Utah.

Chuck Butler


Chuck Butler had an extensive career in health insurance with leadership positions at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana (18 years) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (7 years). In Montana he was responsible for the provider network, creating the state’s first health maintenance organization—HMO Montana—in the mid-80s, and in the early 90s he led the company’s negotiations, creating a PPO—MontanaHealthlink—with one of the state’s largest hospitals.

He served several years on the board of the state’s high-risk pool (Montana Comprehensive Health Association) and two years as board chair. In Montana and Vermont, Butler was also responsible for the health plan’s governmental and regulatory relations, in addition to representing the company with elected officials at the state and federal level.

He is a founder of the Montana Caring Foundation, launched several years prior to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and helped raise several million dollars to pay for medical care for uninsured Montana children.

Allen Feezor, Senior Policy Fellow at IHPS and Senior Policy Advisor with The Feezor Group PC


Allen established Blue Cross Blue Shield Associations’ state insurance legislation and health policy office in Washington DC, working with such groups as NGA, NCSL and NAIC.  Allen  served as North Carolina’s Chief Deputy Commissioner of Insurance where he pioneered early MCO regulatory oversight, and later led the NAIC’s development of state level small group and insurance reforms in ‘90s.  Allen spent seven years stabilizing  and redirecting  two major health purchasing programs, first at NC’s State Employee Health Plan and subsequently at CalPERS Health.   Allen served ten years on the delivery  side of health care in providing strategic guidance to, and the development of,  integrative and networking arrangements for an academic and rural health system.  This work led to being CEO for a foundation dedicated to improving access and rural care delivery in NC and ultimately to his return to state government in 2009 as NC’s Deputy Secretary of Health.  A former MedPAC  Commissioner, Allen served on two IOM panels, on the boards of PBGH, IHA , Carena and, in 2010-11 as Chair of HHS’s Advisory Board on Health CO-OPs.

Terry Gardiner, VP Policy & Strategy, Small Business Majority


Terry Gardiner, based in Seattle, WA, directs Small Business Majority’s policy development and works on long-term strategic planning. He is particularly focused on policies that will ensure the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, particularly the establishment of the 50 state small business healthcare exchanges.

Originally a commercial fisherman, Terry founded and spent 22 years as the CEO of Silver Lining Seafoods, later NorQuest Seafoods. He grew the company to over $100 million in sales, with 1,000 employees and markets in 22 countries. After the sale of NorQuest in 2004, he turned to public policy work, focusing on healthcare reform.

Terry is a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, in which he served for 10 years and authored a host of successful groundbreaking legislation. He is a member of the G.A.O. National Co-Op Advisory Board and has testified at numerous congressional committee hearings.