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Eavesdropping on the health exchange board

November 8, 2011

Last month I devoted many hours to a forum and a series of radio pieces about Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange.  We did some intense thinking about how to explain this new mechanism for buying health insurance. And then of course I had to start reporting on other things.

But when I saw that the Health Benefits Exchange Board was having its 2nd working meeting, I couldn’t resist sitting in on the discussion.

Today, members received background information about how this whole planning process will work, what decisions need to be made, and who’s working behind the scenes.

One bit piece of information that was new to me- five different consulting groups are working on RI’s exchange-

Faulkner Consulting Group-that’s Deb Faulkner, who we interviewed in our first radio piece)

Wakely Consulting Group -that’s Jon Kingsdale and Patrick Holland, the former executive director of MA’s health insurance exchange and the former CFO.

Public Consulting Group-these consultants are working with Medicaid to coordinate some aspects of the health exchange.

KPMG– this consultant group is helping with technical support.

Day Health Strategies-this group is offering help with consumer support.

Health Insurance Commissioner Chris Koller says all of these consultants are being paid with federal funds RI received to create its health exchange.  No one had a precise number for how much money has been spent, but Deb Faulkner’s staff said less than two million of the total contracts have been awarded to date.

This meeting marked the end of purely educating the board. Next time, the group starts grappling with policy questions. Thus begins about two years of building Rhode Island’s website for selling health insurance.

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