After months of searching the Insurance Exchange Board announced Thursday that it chose the president of a private health care exchange in California, who helped implement the nation’s first health care reform law in Massachusetts, as its first chief executive officer.
Kevin J. Counihan was chosen by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy from a pool of 75 candidates. He begins on July 3 and his salary will be $225,000. He was introduced to the Insurance Exchange Board Thursday.
“Kevin has proven that he is a real leader who can work equally well with consumers and insurance carriers to create quality health coverage,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman who chairs the board, said in a press release. “I have full confidence that he will not only expertly guide the Exchange, but will connect with all stakeholders in shaping Connecticut’s reform plan.”
Counihan most recently was president of Choice Administrators Exchange Solutions in Orange, California, which helps states create exchanges under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Before that Counihan served as the chief marketing officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Health Insurance Connector Authority where he helped procure, organize and manage the nation’s first state-sponsored health insurance exchange for individuals and small businesses. He was previously senior vice president for sales, marketing and member services for Tufts Health Plan and prior to that was vice president of sales for CIGNA and EQUICOR.
“Kevin stood out for the breadth of his experience in developing exchanges, his mastery of health care reform issues and challenges and his team-building abilities,” Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri, co-chair of the exchange’s search committee, said.
There are still numerous questions looming for the Insurance Exchange Board which will act as a portal for consumers to purchase health insurance in 2014 under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the law and depending on what it decides federal funding for the initiative may be in jeopardy.
Wyman acknowledged the exchange could be in trouble if the entire law is tossed by the court, but believes it will be able to survive even if some parts are thrown out.
Asked about his decision to take a job in the midst of the Supreme Court’s deliberations, Counihan said he didn’t necessarily view it that way.
“I looked at is as an opportunity to work with a team that can leave a footprint in the state,” Counihan said. “I frankly believe that this is probably the best way we have right now to try and get health care to the citizens.”
“Frankly I view it as a mission, as much as I do as a business,” Counihan said. “It does have to be self-sustainable…at the same I think you have to be in it because you care about human nature.”