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Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Issues Executive Order Establishing the RI Health Benefits Exchange and Appoints Members of the Exchange Board

Providence, RI – Today, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee issued Executive Order 11-09, establishing the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, a critical milestone in getting all Rhode Islanders covered with affordable health insurance. Additionally, Governor Chafee appointed the public members of the Exchange Board created in the Executive Order and named former U.S. Attorney Margaret “Meg” Curran as chair. Donald Nokes, President & Co-Founder of NetCenergy, will serve as vice-chair.

The Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange is created under the auspices of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a way to link consumers and employees with affordable health coverage. The Exchange will function as a marketplace for health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. The Exchange Board will recommend design and policy decisions for the Exchange as it is developed. The Exchange is scheduled to start enrolling Rhode Islanders in health insurance by late 2013. The construction of the Exchange is fully paid through federal funds, for which Rhode Island will apply at the end of this month.

“The Exchange will give more Rhode Islanders access to affordable health coverage,” said Governor Chafee. “There are still many decisions to be made about the specific details of how the Exchange will work. I am confident that Attorney Curran and the Board will ably guide the best design for a Rhode Island exchange.”

“Today, the Governor took a major step in fundamentally changing the status quo for how Rhode Islanders purchase health coverage,” said Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, Chair of the Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission. “More importantly, the purchasing power of individuals, families and small businesses will be brought together in a way that will allow real changes to be made to start to moderate the sharp increases in the cost of health care.”

The board members appointed by Governor Chafee will join four governmental officials on the board: the Director of Administration, the Secretary of the Office of Health and Human Services, the Health Insurance Commissioner, and the Director of Health. The appointed members are:

Public Members:

Margaret “Meg” Curran, Former United States Attorney for RI

Michael C. Gerhardt, Former Health Insurance Executive, Interim Executive Director for RI agencies in transition

James Grace, President & CEO,

Linda Katz, Policy Director & Co-Founder, The Poverty Institute

Peter Lee, President & CEO, John Hope Settlement House

Pamela McKnight, MD (not currently practicing)

Donald Nokes, President & Co-Founder, NetCenergy

Tim Melia, UFCW New England Council

Minerva Quiroz, Case Manager, AIDS Project RI

Government Members:

Steven Costantino, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Christopher Koller, Health Insurance Commissioner

Richard Licht, Director of Administration

Michael Fine, MD, Director of Health

The Executive Order includes a strict conflict of interest provision for Board members. The order also creates an advisory council to tap the expertise that insurers, brokers and medical providers, who are otherwise prohibited from board membership, can bring to the Exchange design and planning process.

“Governor Chafee, Lt. Governor Roberts and many Rhode Islanders have laid the groundwork for the Rhode Island Exchange to succeed in making it easier to for Rhode Islanders to get affordable health coverage,” said former U.S. Attorney Margaret Curran, chair of the Exchange Board. “I look forward to getting to work putting together the best exchange to serve the needs of Rhode Island families and small businesses.”

The first meeting of the Exchange board will be announced soon.

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