Buttigieg 'doubts' that Blue Cross Blue Shield consulting work led to layoffs

'I don't know what happened in the time after I left, that was in 2007, when they decided to shrink in 2009.'

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg dismissed concerns that his tenure working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as a McKinsey & Company consultant resulted in mass layoffs.

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On Tuesday, after facing mounting pressure, Buttigieg released the names of nine clients he worked for during his nearly three-year stint at McKinsey after the elite consulting company announced that it would release him from a nondisclosure agreement that he signed in 2007, when he first began working for the firm.

It included, among other nonprofits and several federal agencies, working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2007 for about three months, Buttigieg's campaign said.

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"I was assigned to a team that looked at overhead expenditures such as rent, utilities, and company travel," Buttigieg wrote about his first project. "The project I was assigned to did not involve policies, premiums, or benefits. Because this was my first client study, it largely involved on-the-job training to develop skills in the use of spreadsheets and presentation software."

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Forum, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Grinnell, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Last week, the South Bend, Indiana mayor said his time in Michigan entailed "identifying savings in administration and overhead costs" for a nonprofit health insurer.

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His work appeared to coincide with Blue Cross's decision, which it announced in January 2009, to cut up to 1,000 jobs, about 10 percent of its workforce, and seek double-digit average rate increases on many of its policies. The decision came after the insurer reported a loss of about $140 million, mostly related to individual policies. Blue Cross also announced that it was freezing pay for nonunion workers and reducing spending on advertising and lobbying by 25 percent.

But Buttigieg, during an interview with the Atlantic, said that he'd been removed from the real substance of the Blue Cross Blue Shield work since it was his first assignment. Mostly, he described his work as feeding math into "a PowerPoint that my manager would take and then bring to a partner who I imagine eventually presented something to a decision maker."

As to whether advising on cutting costs led to people losing their jobs, Buttigieg told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he'd been moved off the project years before the company made cuts that caused an outcry.

"I doubt it," he said, when asked whether he thought his work led to the layoffs. "I don't know what happened in the time after I left, that was in 2007, when they decided to shrink in 2009."

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