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Exchange Board Could Be Filled Out Next Week

Paul Fearer, the newest board member of the Health Benefit Exchange, will bring a strong and knowledgeable voice to the exchange, according to John Grgurina.

And Grgurina should know. Grgurina was president of PacAdvantage when Fearer was chairman of the board.

“What Paul brings is a tremendous amount of experience,” said Grgurina, CEO of San Francisco Health Plan, a city-run insurer covering more than 50,000 low- and middle-income city residents.

“He’s a good listener, level-headed, he is absolutely cream of the crop, with a wealth of experience. He was a purchaser for Pacific Business Group on Health for 13 years, and was on PacAdvantage for 7 years. It’s an outstanding selection. That’s a tremendous value on the board,” Grgurina said.

PacAdvantage is similar in concept to the exchange. It started in 1992 as the Health Insurance Plan of California, the nation’s first health insurance purchasing pool for small business. It ran for 14 years, and shut down in 2006. But it’s the years Fearer spent as chair of the PBGH that stand out to Grgurina.

“He adds the business side of purchasing to the board,” Grgurina said, “which dovetails nicely with all of the strong experience on that board. He provides another perspective and is very, very practical,” he said.

The Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Darrell Steinberg, gets the final nomination. It met yesterday and did not choose anyone. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled Wednesday next week.

“The most important thing to me is — Do you have capable people running what will be the largest exchange in the nation?” Grgurina said. The choices so far — former secretary of state Health and Human Services Kim Belshe, current HHS Secretary Diana Dooley, former Schwarzenegger chief of staff Susan Kennedy and now Fearer — are encouraging, Grgurina said.

“Now that is a really solid team,”Grgurina said.

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