Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 - 6:55
Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 07:39
The federal government is starting the process of bringing in individuals with extensive knowledge of private insurance markets to tackle some of health reform's most challenging tasks.
The health reform law requires the US Department of Health and Human Services to go well beyond the important job of managing Medicare, Medicaid, and other government-sponsored health programs. The law calls upon HHS to set up a new high-risk pool, review insurance company rate increases, and provide assistance to states setting up Insurance Exchanges where people can buy coverage and receive federal subsidies. The agency must also create a temporary reinsurance program for employers providing health insurance to retirees 55 and over who are not eligible for Medicare. These and other responsibilities require an in-depth knowledge of private insurance markets and employer-sponsored health insurance.
Three recent appointments to HHS demonstrate that the administration realizes the need to bring in people with considerable experience in the private sector:
- Jay Angoff is leading the new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) at HHS. This office will provide consumers with comprehensive information on coverage options and new oversight and standards for private health insurance, over and above the traditional insurance regulation conducted by states. Angoff was the Missouri Insurance Commissioner and earlier served as Deputy Insurance Commissioner of New Jersey.
- Steven B. Larsen will lead the Office of Oversight in OCIIO. Larsen’s previous experience includes serving as the Maryland Insurance Commissioner and Chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission. He was also a Senior Vice President of Amerigroup, a managed care organization specializing in serving lower-income populations, seniors, and people with disabilities by contracting with public programs.
- Peter Lee is joining HHS as the Director of Delivery System Reform in the department’s Office of Health Reform. Over the last decade, Lee has led the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), a business coalition representing California employers. Under Lee’s direction, PBGH has been a national leader in developing innovative tools for improving quality of care, including report cards for consumers permitting comparisons of health plans and medical groups on quality indicators and health information technology innovations.
These leaders with private sector experience bring a new dimension to a department with many experts on the details of public programs, but limited knowledge of employer coverage and private insurance regulation. More will be needed, but this is a good start.