Health insurance exchange board searching for CEO, quickly

Wanted: Educated, experienced senior-level manager to develop and run a key piece of health care reform. Must pass muster with the governor and, preferably, be willing to start work early next year.

Those are the basic qualifications to become the first chief executive officer of the state’s health insurance exchange, a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance that will launch by 2014. Legislation this year established the exchange as a quasi-public agency.

The job posting seeks candidates with advanced degrees and at least five years of senior-level management experience. It also says candidates should have experience designing and operating benefits programs, including those serving low-income and “special populations,” as well as “considerable knowledge and experience” with health insurance policy development, health reform law and health care delivery trends and issues.

The board that oversees the exchange will be charged with narrowing down the candidates, first through a smaller committee of board members that will conduct two rounds of interviews, and then the full board, which will hold the final interviews and recommend three candidates to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Malloy will then select the CEO.

The schedule for picking the CEO is expected to be tight. A timeline for the search process calls for having the interviews in December and a CEO in place in February.

During a special meeting of the exchange board Tuesday, state Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri, who co-chairs the search committee, praised the work done so far to identify the qualities needed in a CEO. “The fact is, and I think it’s really important to stress this, that I believe this description will get us to somebody who’s not only extremely well qualified from an insurance standpoint in understanding insurance processes, but it also is consumer-driven,” she said.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, the search committee co-chair, said he shared Veltri’s optimism about the process, but warned that recruiting someone as critical as the exchange CEO is an uncertain process that might not produce options the board likes in the time allotted. If the search doesn’t attract what members considers to be the right kind of applicants, Barnes said, he and other search committee members might come before the full board and ask for a change in direction.