Exchanging Directors…

The board of the California Health Benefits Exchange met today, both fully showcasing the new executive director, Peter Lee, and his vision for operating the Exchange, and thanking Pat Powers in her final meeting officially with the Exchange, where she served as the interim director during its startup.

As chair of the board of the Exchange, HHS Secretary proposed a resolution in the middle of the meeting to thank Pat Powers for her service, and mulitple board members provided words of appreciation, crediting her with significant progress and keeping California’s leadership role in implementing the new health law. The motion passed unanimously. The new Director, Peter Lee, also thanked her and the legacy she provided.

This was Peter Lee’s second meeting in his new role, and he used his report to put his own strong stamp, as a full-time, ongoing director, on how the Exchange would be run.

* On public testimony, the Exchange piloted a 2-minute limit for public testimony (per item). Lee used his iPad to display a countdown clock, and he mentioned that the Board will pilot, at the next meeting, the ability to take off-site testimony.

* Lee highlighted background materials, including submitted comments by Health Access, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and a report by the Greenlining Institute on the opportunities and challenges of implementing health reform for California’s diverse communities.

* Through a Powerpoint, Lee stated that the Exchange will use “evidence based policymaking,” factoring in legal scope, California facts, stakeholder views, options & recommendations, budget & timeline, and other data.

* Lee outlined the multiple contracts expected to be granted in the next year. He also reported that in closed session this morning, the Exchange Board authorized six contracts: research & analysis, stakeholder engagement, health plan management, SHOP, support for board mtgs, etc. As they do this, they are developing a standard procurement process for this contracting.

* That said, there was recognition that the contract for information technology for the Exchange was much bigger, and more foundational–and so the Exchange board will take comments on the RFP. However, given the timeline, the process will be condensed. For the planning purposes for health wonks, the comment period for IT RFP will be short and over the holidays. Final adoption will be mid-January.

* On the personnel front, Lee introduced five new staff people, including Katie Marcellus who is switching over from CA HHS. Lee also presented a new proposed Exchange organizational structure, including a chief medical officer, as well as executives for legal issues, health plan contracting, actuarial work and research, etc. In closed session, the board authorized new senior executive positions (IT, operations, communications, chief actuary, etc.) Lee also said that the Exchange will soon announce three senior hires (many from civil service) in the next week.

After these multiple reports by Lee, he asked staff to provide reports on relevant signed health reform implementation bills, AB922 on consumer assistance, and AB1296 on eligibility and enrollment, as well as on the Supreme Court decision to hear the constitutional challenge to the ACA.

The rest of the meeting was a presentation by Terri Shaw on the UX2014 project, to develop a “first class user experience” in enrolling people in the Exchange. She is coordinating a project that provides the design of a framework of a user experience that should provide end-to-end eligibility, enrollment, plan comparison, premium payment, and retention services. The design should help enroll people in all coverage programs, as well as be linked to other human services, with a uniform application that is tailored for the individual (for example, asking only for needed data).

Shaw stated that the UX2014 project learning from analogues, from travel sites (which features complex choices) and online dating (which users need to trust with personal info). Responding to a Q by board member Kim Belshe, Shaw stated that an (ambitious) goal of UX2014 would be to make getting health insurance, usually a complex chore, as close to “fun” as possible. The presentation engendered much public discussion–although it was clear that the finished product was merely a design that states and Exchanges across the nation could draw from, but was not a finished product, source code, or a recommendation with the imprimatur of state or federal policymakers.

The Exchange ended their meeting, but with a fuller understanding of the tasks that lie ahead. As always, you can follow these meetings live on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthaccess or from our friends at Consumers Union http://twitter.com/RX_4CalChange, using the hashtag #CaHBEx.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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