This is a photo of Jim Wadleigh
Jim Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT Arielle Levin Becker /
This is a photo of Jim Wadleigh
Jim Wadleigh Arielle Levin Becker /

Jim Wadleigh, the top information technology official at Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, will lead the agency on an interim basis after chief executive Kevin Counihan leaves for a top federal job next week.

The exchange’s board plans to conduct a national search to replace Counihan, but it’s anticipated to take months. That means Wadleigh will be leading the agency, Access Health CT, at the start of the next open enrollment period for private health insurance, which begins Nov. 15.

The board selected Wadleigh Wednesday over two other senior agency officials who had been invited to apply: Chief Operating Officer Peter Van Loon and Chief Financial Officer Steve Sigal.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs the Access Health board, said Wadleigh’s technology expertise was an important factor in the decision. She said Wadleigh, Sigal and Van Loon have all been asked to apply for the top job through the national search.

Wadleigh has previously worked at CIGNA and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. He has been at Access Health for two years, leading the technology operations for an exchange that received national attention for running more smoothly than most of its counterparts.

Access Health has made its exchange system available to other states. Maryland is already using it, and nine states have been in contact with Connecticut about the system, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“This in large part goes to the credit of Jim Wadleigh, who oversaw its development and implementation,” Malloy said in a statement.

Counihan is leaving the exchange to become the CEO of, the federal marketplace used by nearly three dozen states to enroll people in coverage. His last day at Access Health will be Sept. 5, and Wadleigh will become interim CEO Sept. 6.

Wyman said the board plans to hire an outside company to conduct the search, and said it’s not clear how long the search will take.

The procedure for hiring the next CEO will differ from the one used for Counihan’s hiring. For the first appointment, state law required the exchange board to nominate three candidates, but gave the final decision to the governor. Future appointments are up to the board.

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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