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The Exchange Holds Historic First Meeting

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The California Health Benefit Exchange Board held its first meeting on April 20, 2011. The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the establishment of health benefit exchanges that allow individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage. Today's meeting was the Exchange board meeting in the country. A number of actions were taken.

The board has five members, and four of those seats have been filled; the Senate has yet to appoint. Members include California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley; S. Kimberly Belshé, former Health and Human Agency Secretary to Governor Schwarzenegger; Susan Kennedy, former chief of staff to Governor Schwarzenegger; and Paul Fearer, Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Human Resources at Union Bank as well as Board Chair of the Pacific Business Group on Health.

The Exchange Board voted to make Secretary Dooley the interim chair of the body. In addition, the board voted to pursue a Level II federal planning grant to support the establishment of the exchange and to submit the grant on September 30, 2011. The board also voted to establish a subcommittee of its members to direct grant development and to establish a second subcommittee for purposes of search/recruitment of the Executive Officer, Chief Counsel and other key positions. The board appointed Pat Powers as Acting Administrative Officer until a permanent Executive Officer is hired.

The Exchange board has set an aggressive schedule in order to develop a federal grant by September 30, 2011. Several policy decisions will have to be made in the coming months in order for the board to develop the grant. The board will meet next on May 11 and will discuss health insurance markets, program integration of public health care programs, public health and social services programs, the Basic Health Plan option, and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange requirements. The board will meet at least monthly, and possibly more frequently than that, through 2011.

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