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Mayor Gray Nominates Health Industry Experts to Panel That Will Implement President Obama's Health Care Reform Law in the District

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mayor Gray Nominates Health Industry Experts to Panel That Will Implement President Obama's Health Care Reform Law in the District

Mayor Gray Nominates Health Industry Experts to Panel That Will Implement President Obama’s Health Care Reform Law in the District Nominees Bring Broad Health-Care-Policy Expertise to D.C.’s Health Benefit Exchange

CONTACT:       Doxie McCoy (EOM) - (202) 727-9691; doxie.mccoy@dc.gov
                           Dorinda White (DHCF) 202.727.9226; dorinda.white@dc.gov

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced the nominations of prominent health-care professionals to the newly created Executive Board of the District’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX).

The nominees are Dr. Mohammad Akhter, who currently serves as the Director of the D.C. Department of Health; Henry J. Aaron, Ph.D., a senior fellow in health care at the Brookings Institution; Leighton Ku, Ph.D., professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University; Khalid Pitts, Director of Strategic Campaigns at the Service Employees International Union; Kate Sullivan Hare, Director of Policy Outreach and Public Affairs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Diane C. Lewis, health-care policy consultant; and Kevin Lucia, research professor and project director at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University. The nominees to the Executive Board of the HBX will be submitted to the D.C. Council for confirmation.

The District has moved swiftly to implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. PPACA requires each state and the District to establish a benefit exchange to provide a health-insurance marketplace where residents can compare and purchase insurance. The District has chosen to establish a quasi-governmental entity to operate its exchange.

“When I came into office, I immediately formed the Health Reform Implementation Committee (HRIC) so that we could continue to move towards fulfilling the federal mandate to implement health-care reform, and I am extremely pleased with our progress,” Mayor Gray said. “The professionals that I nominated to serve on the Executive Board of the HBX are crucial to the success of this project, with an end result of providing quality health care to all of our residents that is affordable and within reach.”

Mayor Gray continued: “My vision for One City includes ensuring that we have healthy residents who are able to contribute to our New Economy and enjoy the advantages of working, playing and living in the District. The nominees to the Executive Board of the Health Benefit Exchange Authority bring years of experience in the health-care sector. They will work hard to ensure that that the interests of District residents are a priority as we move towards full implementation of health-care reform.”

The District’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority was created by D.C. Council legislation under the Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011 (DC L12-0094). The purpose of the law is “to establish the Health Benefit Exchange Authority and its functions and duties, to provide for the appointment of executive and advisory boards to the Health Benefit Exchange Authority, to establish the powers and duties of the executive board, to include conflict of interest provisions for and limit the liability of the executive and advisory boards, to establish the minimum criteria for the certification of health benefit plans as qualified health plans, to require the executive board to report to the Council, Mayor, and public regarding the operation of the Health Benefit Exchange Authority, and to require the Health Benefit Exchange Authority to submit rules for Council review.”

One of the key nominees to the Executive Board, Dr. Mohammad Akhter, will take an unpaid leave of absence from his position at the Department of Health to contribute to his life’s passion, the creation of a health-benefit exchange that will provide access to quality health care to all of the District’s residents.

“We are excited to have reached this point in the health-care reform implementation process. The HRIC has been working hard to provide recommendations to the Mayor that will best serve D.C.’s residents. After much feedback and input from focus groups in the community and among stakeholders, we are ready to take that next step to create the Exchange and a viable health-insurance marketplace,” said Wayne Turnage, Director of the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance and co-chair of the HRIC. “Dr. Akhter, co-chair of the HRIC, has worked with us from the beginning, and his experience and insight will be well served on the Executive Board of the Exchange Authority. All of the nominees are well qualified. Their expertise will be crucial as we move towards the mandated full implementation by January 2014.”

About the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law. The law puts in place comprehensive health-insurance reforms that will hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health-care costs, guarantee more health-care choices and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans. The law is intended to provide greater access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

For more information on health-care reform implementation in the District, please visit www.healthreform.dc.gov.