HHS Official Overseeing State Health Insurance Exchanges Leaving Post
Joel Ario is stepping down from his post as the director of the state-based health insurance exchange office at HHS in September, according to CMS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Steve Larsen, CQ HealthBeat reports (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 8/2).
Larsen did not comment on why Ario is leaving (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 8/2). Ario joined HHS in 2010 after serving as insurance commissioner of Pennsylvania.
Larsen said that planning for the exchanges "will proceed as it has up till now," adding, "We're going to have a smooth transition. He's not leaving tomorrow" (Reuters, 8/2).
Larsen said in an email to agency employees that he and Tim Hill, a deputy director for HHS' health reform office, will take over planning of the exchanges. According to Larsen, "Tim's talent and experience here at CMS will ensure a smooth transition and will complement my background working in state government for over a decade, particularly my time as a state insurance commissioner." He added that he and Hill will hire a state liaison (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/2).
Some state officials have expressed concern about the change, saying that they are at a point when guidance on creating the exchanges is critical (CQ HealthBeat, 8/2).
Recent Action on Health Insurance Exchanges
The Obama administration in July unveiled a proposed regulation for the state-based health insurance exchanges created by the federal health reform law. Federal officials said they will issue a separate rule later this year establishing the minimum level of benefits, which is known under the reform law as "essential health benefits" (California Healthline, 7/12).
In the meantime, states are "clamoring" for more information on the exchange rules, "Healthwatch" reports ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.