Senate Confirms Governor's Nominees to the Insurance Exchange Board
September 22, 2011--The Senate unanimously confirmed the nine people Governor John Kitzhaber recommended to be on Oregon's Insurance Exchange Board this afternoon.
The nine members of the board are:
- Liz Baxter, executive director of We Can Do Better (formerly known as the Archimedes Movement), a non-profit advocacy group focused on improving healthcare and health outcomes for Oregonians.
- Teri Andrews, owner of Albany's CG Industries, a small business.
- Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75.
- Aelea Christofferson, owner of Bend's ATL Communications, a small business.
- Jose Gonzales, principal broker of Salem's Tu Casa Real Estate Corporation.
- Gretchen Peterson, vice president of human resources at Portland's Hanna Anderson, a small business.
- Dr. George Brown, chief executive officer of Legacy Health System.
- Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Health Authority.
- Teresa Miller, administrator of the Oregon Insurance Division.
Baxter will serve as the board's chair.
"I am pleased the Senate confirmed this talented and diverse group of Oregonians whose range of experience will serve the state well in our efforts to improve the delivery of healthcare by ensuring that individuals and small businesses have access to affordable, quality health insurance in the private market," Governor John Kitzhaber said in a press release today.
Although the board's members represent an array of perspectives in the healthcare arena, including consumer and labor interests, many spoke about the importance of making health insurance affordable to uninsured individuals and small business owners.
"Without good health, you cannot work, create jobs, or attend to our families," Gonzales said at the Senate Rules and Executive Appointments Committee, which considers the Governor's recommendation to various boards.
Allen cited more than 20 years of experience in bargaining for AFSCME's 25,000 members when he noted that "health insurance is the hottest topic in every round of barganing."
"We have a healthcare crisis larger than any single employer," he continued, adding that making health insurance affordable is the only way to grapple with that crisis.
The Health Insurance Exchange was created by Senate 99 passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The exchange will provide a one-stop shopping place for uninsured individuals and small businesses to find an affordable health insurance plan that meets their needs.
The exchange board, which is under an aggressive timeline will hold its first meeting next Friday, September 30.
Rocky King, the exchange's interim executive director, told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Health Care Committees that the board will first establish its governing structure and bylaws, and draft a business plan.
It will then begin designing the specific parameters of health plans available under the exchange--including the cost of co-pays and deductibles and the benefit structure.
The exchange expects to begin offering coverage in January 2014.
The state's efforts to create an avenue for uninsured individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health insurance is in anticipation of the federal government's efforts to create a similar exchange at the federal level as a result of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The federal exchange is expected to become operational in 2014. Had Oregon not chosen to create its own exchange, it would have been required to adopt the federal government's model.
Legislators and those in the healthcare industry anticipate Oregon's exchange will be an example not only to other states, but also to the federal government.
As Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said during the Senate Rule Committee's hearing, "I am sure that Oregon will be soon leading the way in this area."