Legislature to consider expanding exchange board

The legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee plans to hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposal to expand the board of the health insurance exchange. The board is charged with implementing a key part of health reform — creating a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy health care coverage — but its composition has drawn protests from advocates who say consumers and small businesses aren’t adequately represented.

The proposed change has the support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs the exchange board.

The bill would add two voting members to the board. One would be a small employer and would be appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate. The other, to be appointed by the House speaker, would be “a consumer of specialized health care services for a disability, a chronic illness or special needs, or of health care services.”

The bill would also make the state healthcare advocate a voting board member. Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri is currently a nonvoting board member, although she has been among the more vocal participants at board meetings.

Critics of the board, which now has 11 voting members and three nonvoting ones, say insurance company interests are overrepresented. There is one small business owner on the board — Michael Devine, CEO of Earth Energy Alliance in Westport. Three board members have ties to insurance companies, although none currently work for one.

The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, which has criticized the board appointments, wants the bill to go further and add two consumer representatives and two small business representatives.