Updated July 2 at 2:02pm

Koller: ‘We are no longer talking past one another’

By Richard Asinof
Contributing Writer
R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller says there’s enough unfinished business to keep him working right up until the last minute of his scheduled departure at the end of June. That’s when he’s set to begin his new job as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund in New York City.

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Koller: ‘We are no longer talking past one another’

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R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller says there’s enough unfinished business to keep him working right up until the last minute of his scheduled departure at the end of June. That’s when he’s set to begin his new job as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund in New York City.

Appointed in 2005 as the nation’s first-ever health-insurance commissioner, Koller has blazed a trail of innovation during his eight-year tenure, often challenging the state’s dominant health care insurers and hospital networks to change the way they do business.

Koller successfully championed the 2010 affordability standards in contracts between health insurers and hospitals. He helped to spur innovations in health care delivery models, such as introducing the patient-centered medical home as part of the creation of the Rhode Island Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative. And he successfully withstood a lawsuit challenging his authority to review contracts between hospitals and insurers.

Koller has a lot on his plate before he leaves: The new insurance products on the R.I. Health Benefits Exchange will be debuted; he is scheduled to rule on the proposed rate increases requested by the three commercial health insurers and the report he co-chaired about hospital capacity will be addressed by the General Assembly.

PBN: What is the status of the final report on hospital capacity by the statewide Health Care Planning and Accountability Council?

KOLLER: The council approved a final version of the report, which we will be sending over to the legislature shortly. [It was sent on April 30.] … They are facts, findings, conclusions – not recommendations.

What’s going to happen next depends on the policymakers. One of the findings was that in five years, there would be 200 extra hospital beds. The findings were agreed to by a pretty diverse group of prominent folks, including hospitals.

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