PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Health Insurance Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Hittner publicly announced today plans to retire from her position effective next month. In her place, Governor Gina M. Raimondo will appoint Dr. Marie L. Ganim. The Governor has submitted her name to the Rhode Island State Senate for advice and consent.
"We've made great strides over the past few years in ensuring Rhode Islanders have access to quality, affordable health care," Raimondo said. "Ninety-six percent of all Rhode Islanders now have health insurance, and our state is home to one the lowest uninsured rates in the country. I am confident that Dr. Ganim possesses the expertise and strong professional background needed to keep us moving in the right direction."
Dr. Marie L. Ganim is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director for the Rhode Island State Senate. She previously served as the Senate's Director of Health and Human Services Policy. Prior to working for the Senate, she spent time as Policy Director for former U.S. Congressman Robert A. Weygand and as a Health Policy Specialist in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Dr. Ganim holds an undergraduate degree in political science from Providence College, a master's degree in public administration from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in public and international affairs with a specialty in health policy from Northeastern University. She lives in Lincoln.
Current Health Insurance Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Hittner has served the state for four years, since her appointment in June 2013. Over her tenure, Rhode Island has maintained some of the lowest rate increases in the country, despite national uncertainty about health care. Under Dr. Hittner's leadership, the office has saved Rhode Island consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars through its rate review process, focused on care transformation and promoted collaboration among providers and insurance carriers.
"I am grateful to Dr. Hittner for her years of service to Rhode Islanders, and wish her the best of luck in this next chapter in her life," Raimondo said.
About the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner
In 2004, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation establishing the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC). Prior to 2004, the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) was responsible for oversight of all types of coverage, including health, life, and automobile insurances. The DBR now provides infrastructure and expert staff to the OHIC.
The OHIC is the first state agency dedicated solely to health insurance oversight. Moreover, the Rhode Island legislature expanded the traditional role for insurance regulation beyond consumer protections and insurer solvency. Such a role, laid out in the OHIC Purposes Statute, must balance traditional regulation with policy development. Overall, the agency is charged with ensuring solvency, protecting consumers, engaging providers and improving the health care system in Rhode Island.