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Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission Holds Organizational Meeting

Press Release

Location: Montgomery, AL

The Alabama Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission today met for the first time to begin working on the development of an online system for Alabamians to purchase health insurance PLANS that meet certain affordability and quality standards IN a competitive marketplace, often referred to as the Alabama Exchange. Governor Robert Bentley created the commission earlier this year to make recommendations concerning the development of a health insurance exchange for Alabama.

"Every Alabamian deserves access to affordable health insurance. My vision for the Alabama Exchange is to improve the health of our citizens by providing them with a gateway to purchase health insurance that best fits their needs while also promoting competition among health insurers," said Governor Robert Bentley. "This insurance exchange will enable us to better manage the cost of health care while also providing Alabamians with more affordable choices for health insurance coverage."

By 2014, Alabama must implement the major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes the establishment of a health insurance exchange that provides an online market place to evaluate health insurance options and apply for coverage. States that do not create a heath insurance exchange will be forced to adopt a federally operated program under the Affordable Care Act.

The Commission will work to address the type of entity that should house the insurance exchange, the make-up of its governing board, an analysis of resources needed for operating and sustaining the Alabama Exchange, the specific functions of the Exchange, and the effects of the interactions between the Alabama Exchange and relevant insurance markets, existing health programs and stage agencies, including the Alabama Medicaid Agency, Alabama Department of Insurance and the Department of Public Health.

The Commission consists of 15 members, including the Chairman of the House and Senate Health Committees, Medicaid Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, and state Finance Director. Other members of the Commission represent physicians, for-profit insurers, not-for-profit insurers, the business community, nursing homes and hospitals, insurance agents, and consumers.

Members of the Commission include:

* Co-Chairman, State Representative Jim McClendon, Chair of the House Health Committee
* Co-Chairman, State Senator Greg Reed, Chair of the Senate Health Committee
* Dr. R. Bob Mullins, Jr., State Medicaid Agency Director
* Jim Ridling, State Insurance Commissioner
* Margaret Whatley; Finance Director Designee
* Shane Spees, CEO, Baptist Health System Birmingham
* Bart Yancey, President of Enrollment Advisors
* Noel W. Carden, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
* Ron Perkins, Vice-President of Doozer Software, Inc.
* Rosemary Elebash, State Director, National Federation of Independent Business
* Tom Younger, Senior Vice President, J. Smith Lanier & Co.
* Richard Brockman, Attorney, Johnston Barton Procter & Rose LLP
* Dr. Craig Christopher, retired physician
* Grace Bush, Consumer Representative
* Deborah Tucker, CEO, Whatley Health Services, Inc.

Richard Fiore will serve as the Executive Director of the Health Insurance Exchange and will work with stakeholders and other state agencies on the recommendations made by the commission. He will also work to ensure that Alabama meets the necessary timeline for implementation of the health insurance exchange.

"Governor Bentley has worked hard to make his vision of a health insurance exchange a reality. I am privileged to join with him and the commission members to recommend ways to create a health insurance exchange that will be beneficial to the citizens of this state," said Fiore.

The Commission will present its recommendations to Governor Bentley and the Legislature no later than December 1, 2011.

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