Gov. M. Jodi Rell has appointed Barbara C. Spear to serve as acting insurance commissioner.

Spear replaces Thomas Sullivan, who is leaving the post for a job in the private sector.

For the past two-and-a-half years, Spear, a Simsbury resident, has served as director of consumer services and business regulation for the department, overseeing consumer affairs, market conduct, licensing and the department’s fraud and investigations unit. She will maintain that job in addition to her new role.

Although the Rell administration is winding down, Spear’s department still has many key decisions to make, including approving requests for health insurance rate changes. On Wednesday, the department will hold a public hearing on a requested rate increase for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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