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Four Is a Quorum — Exchange Board Gets To Work

Darrell Steinberg can take as long as he wants.

The Senate Rules Committee, headed by Steinberg, will appoint the fifth and final member of the California Health Benefit Exchange board, but the rest of the board has decided it needs to get started.

The exchange board’s first public meeting is scheduled Apr. 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Goldberg Auditorium at the Franchise Tax Board building on Butterfield Drive in Sacramento.

The exchange won’t be fully operational until 2014, but the workload to implement the exchange is extremely daunting, according to health care expert Peter Harbage of Harbage Consulting.

“It is critical for the exchange to get up and running quickly to be ready for 2014,” Harbage said. “Being ready for 2014 means being ready in 2012, so the state can confirm to the federal government that the state will have our own exchange. There are many complex issues that will take time to work through.”

That means time’s a-wasting, Harbage said. “When you think about the workload, you can make an argument that we are already failing behind,” he said. “To start enrollment in 2014 means that contracts have to be ready and approved, which means contracts have to be negotiated, which means the exchange board needs to make decisions on a series of issues to prepare for the negotiations.”

Next week’s agenda is already full. The four members will:

  • Elect an interim chair;
  • Go over what the board is required to do, and what provisions of the Affordable Care Act apply to the exchange;
  • Establish a timeline for applying for a federal grant;
  • Appoint an acting administrative officer;
  • Create a recruitment committee to hire an executive director;
  • Work out a calendar for the rest of the year; and
  • Discuss personnel issues in closed session.

So far, the board consists of former secretary of state Health and Human Services Kim Belshé, current HHS Secretary Diana Dooley, former Schwarzenegger chief of staff Susan Kennedy and chair of the Pacific Business Group on Health Paul Fearer.

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