U.S. Hires UnitedHealth’s Slavitt to Lead Obamacare Effort

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will also hire a chief executive officer and chief technology officer for the insurance exchanges.

INN Breaking News, June 23, 2014

Alex Wayne

(Bloomberg) -- The UnitedHealth Group Inc. executive whose Optum division has helped at least four states fix Obamacare health exchanges will become second-in-command at the federal agency that runs the U.S. program.

Andy Slavitt, Optumís group vice president, will become principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. officials said. The company he comes from, UnitedHealth, is the nationís largest health insurer.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will also hire a chief executive officer and chief technology officer for the†insurance†exchanges, said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who was approved by Congress as the HHS secretary on June 9, in a statement obtained by Bloomberg News. Previously, no single person was in charge of the exchanges, a lack of accountability faulted by both foes and supporters of Obamacare after healthcare.gov was found to be riddled with technical errors.

The changes ďbring additional operational and technological firepower and have a clear single point of contact in the marketplace CEO to streamline decision-making,Ē Burwell said in the statement.

In his new job, Slavitt will have broad responsibility for all of CMSís operations, including Affordable Care Act programs, Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid, the program for low-income people. He will report to the agencyís administrator, Marilyn Tavenner.

Slavitt offered his companyís services to the Obama administration in late October as the federal website was floundering. The government hired Optumís Quality Software Services Inc. unit as lead contractor for the site, and by December, it functioned for most customers.

State Aid

States with exchange problems of their own began calling Optum soon after, including Maryland, Minnesota and Massachusetts. The company was credited with helping each of the states enroll thousands of people in new Affordable Care Act health plans despite websites that barely functioned, if at all. Vermont hired Optum this month.

The government hasnít yet identified candidates for the exchange CEO and CTO jobs, officials said. The CEO will have responsibility for both federal and state exchanges, and will report to Tavenner, Slavitt and Burwell.

Kurt DelBene, a former Microsoft Inc. executive who has been managing the federal enrollment system since December, will leave the government at the end of this month. His job was always considered temporary and his departure isnít related to Slavittís appointment, officials said.

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