Advocates See Few Consumer Voices On Health Exchange

Advocates See Few Consumer Voices On Health Exchange



Although its first meeting is not until Monday and its membership was not confirmed officially until Wednesday night but already, the board administering the health insurance exchange of the state is already drawing fire from consumer advocates, who see it as heavily leaning toward the insurance industry.

The new panel’s members include the head of an association of health plans for unionized workers, a health policy scholar who happened to be married to a state representative, and three former insurance executives. The panel will be headed by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Most of the members of the board were selected by legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The panel will supervise the quasi-public authority governing the exchange – a marketplace for small businesses and individuals to purchase health care coverage as part of the federal health reform.

The governor’s special adviser for health care reform, Jeannette DeJesús, said that consumers will have the opportunity to participate in the process. She also added that establishing an exchange without the help of people who are experts in insurance, data and technology “would not be the most effective way to approach this project.”

The criticism towards the composition of the board could provide a glimpse at the type of scrutiny that the exchange will have to go through as it tries to implement some elements of the federal health reform, which is one of the most divisive legislation in recent memory and a definite issue in the re-election campaign of President Obama next year.