Chafee issues executive order to create health benefits exchange

GOV. Lincoln D. Chafee issued an executive order on Sept. 19 establishing the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, an event that he called a critical milestone in getting all Rhode Islanders covered with affordable health insurance.
Posted 9/19/11

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee issued an executive order on Sept. 19 establishing the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, an event that he called a critical milestone in getting all Rhode Islanders covered with affordable health insurance.

“Today, the Governor took a major step in fundamentally changing the status quo for how Rhode Islanders purchase health coverage,” said Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, chair of the R.I. Healthcare Reform Commission. “The purchasing power of individuals, families and small businesses will be brought together in a way that will allow real changes to be made to start to moderate the sharp increases in the cost of health care.”

The newly created R.I. Health Benefits Exchange will operate as a new division within the executive branch, its purpose “to provide benefits for persons lacking adequate insured coverage and to lower costs or improve the quality, availability and accessibility of health services.”

The R.I. General Assembly failed to enact enabling legislation for the exchange during its last session, after the proposed bill became entangled in a debate over federal rules on abortion. That failure forced Chafee to use an executive order to create the new exchange, in order to meet federal funding deadline of Sept. 30 that is worth more than $10 million in grants for Rhode Island, according to Roberts.

Now that the exchange has been established, Roberts said that it was possible that it exchange could be converted into a quasi-public authority, if the R.I. General Assembly passes enabling legislation in a future session. “It’s up to them,” she told Providence Business News. “Right now, we can’t wait.”

The exchange will function as an online portal and marketplace enabling individuals, families and small businesses to purchase health insurance, with its construction fully paid through federal funds. “It should be very efficient and economical, automated and online,” said Deborah Faulkner of the Faulkner Consulting Group, the project director of the state’s efforts to design the working mechanics of the exchange, working under a federal grant to the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner. The current plan has the exchange scheduled to start enrolling Rhode Islanders in health insurance by late 2013.

A potential legal challenge to the Health Benefits Exchange may be forthcoming from the R.I. Right To Life Committee, which said in July it had hired a lawyer to research a legal challenge to the governor’s executive order.

Chafee also appointed the public members of the exchange’s board created in the executive order, naming former U.S. Attorney Meredith “Meg” Curran as chair, and Donald Nokes, president and co-founder of NetCenergy, as vice-chair.

Public members of the Exchange’s board include:

  • Margaret “Meg” Curran, former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island

  • Michael C. Gerhardt, former health insurance executive, interim executive director for Rhdoe Island agencies in transition

  • James Grace, president and CEO,

  • Linda Katz, policy director and co-founder, The Poverty Institute

  • Peter Lee, president and CEO, John Hope Settlement House

  • Dr. Pamela McKnight, MD (not currently practicing)

  • Donald Nokes, president and co-founder, NetCenergy

  • Tim Melia, UFCW New England Council

  • Minerva Quiroz, case manager, Ocean State AIDS Care

    Government members of the Exchange’s board include:

  • Steven M. Costantino, Secretary of the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services

  • Christopher F. Koller, R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner

  • Richard Licht, the Director of the R.I. Department of Administration

  • Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the R.I. Health Department

    The executive order includes a strict conflict of interest provision for board members. The order also creates an advisory council to tap the expertise that insurers, brokers and medical providers, who are otherwise prohibited from board membership, can bring to the Exchange design and planning process.

  • Calendar
    PBN Hosted

    Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot early!
    • Best Places to Work
      Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
    • Manufacturing Awards
      Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
    Purchase Data
    Book of Lists
    Book of Lists cover
    PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
    Data icons
    Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News