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2021 In-House Counsel Awards: Maureen Vogel

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City

Maureen VogelMaureen Vogel comes from a family of physicians and nurses, so while she pursued a career in law rather than medicine, when it came to decide what she wanted to focus her career in, she picked an arena that felt familiar.

“I like the health care space,” said Vogel, who has spent more than two decades in the field and the last two as associate general counsel of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. “It’s an area that impacts everyone, and with regard to the specific cases, I liked studying the health care issues in the case, understanding the care and treatments provided.”

After graduating law school at University of Missouri, Vogel clerked in the Missouri Court of Appeals for Judge Harold L. Lowenstein and decided that she wanted to pursue litigation.

“Clerking at the court of appeals, you are reviewing matters that are in litigation, so I was very familiar with that, and I liked the idea of arguing cases before juries,” Vogel said.

Vogel took a job at a firm that later merged with Polsinelli in Kansas City, where she represented health care providers in a number of cases.

“We were able to achieve some good outcomes. I also think there were some cases that were favorably resolved,” said Vogel. “Working through that decision-making process and having the opportunity to learn and understand the case in general and get the outcome that the client wanted and deserved was rewarding to me.”

Despite the satisfaction she took from the work, as Vogel built a family, the burdens of the travel and schedule at Polsinelli “were not working for me, so it worked out that I was able to transition into counseling and advising and hospitals operations,” she said.

Her experience with health care providers has helped her as counsel at Blue Cross and Blue Shield because she understands providers’ perspective on issues.

“If I were negotiating a contract, I can appreciate [the provider’s] position having worked in that industry for so long,” Vogel said.

Over the last two years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has worked to update contracts — because of new laws and regulations — with Medicare Advantage, a health insurance plan that provides public benefits through private health insurance.

“These agreements had been amended from time to time but had not been fully updated for years. This was a significant project involving a large internal team,” Vogel said.

Vogel and her team successfully updated the contracts amidst the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic presented challenges such as working remotely and technological issues,” Vogel said. “Many of us had family members who were also transitioning to working and schooling at home. Our workflow and timeline adjusted as we found new ways to work together virtually and ultimately completed the project remotely.”